As a native plant and long-appreciated seasonal herb, seri appears in a number of old literary works. Harvesting or gift use of seri in early spring is mentioned in "Manyoshu," Japan's oldest poetry collection compiled in the 7th-8th century, and as food, seri is mentioned in "Kojiki," the oldest (early 8th century) history book in Japan.
Seri, as one of the seven spring herbs with medicinal effects, is repeatedly cited in literature beginning in the 13th century or so. Today, seri still takes the stage every year in the custom of eating nanakusa-gayu [seven-herb rice porridge] on January 7 as a wish for good health. The natural season for the seven herbs is not necessarily in January, yet seven-herb packs for nanakusa-gayu are commonly found at shops in early January in Japan.
Among more recent books, "Waka Shokumotsu Honzo," an early 17th-century book on edible herbs, describes seri as "sweet, free of poison, stops bleeding, increases vigor and vitality," and the late 17th-century "Honcho Shokkan" on Japanese food explains that seri "improves intestines, eliminates jaundice, also reduces (body) heat after drinking."
Seri is rich in β-carotene (1900 μg/100 g edible part) and Vitamin C (20 mg). β-carotene is converted into Vitamin A in the human body as necessary and controls active oxygen while maintaining functions of skin and mucus cells and improving the immune system. Other notable nutrients are folic acid (110 μg), niacin (1.2 mg) and pantothenic acid (0.42 mg) among vitamins, and calcium (34 mg), potassium (410mg), magnesium (24 mg) and iron (1.6 mg) among minerals, as well as fiber (2.5 g).
Seri's distinctive aroma contains eugenol, which is also found in clove and bay leaves, and is known for its calming effect. Pyrazine, another aromatic component, is said to help prevent blood clots and strengthen liver functions.
Seri is not a common produce item at Japanese grocery stores in the US. Korean grocery stores are your better bet. Seri is called "minari" in Korean, and is often available in cool/cold seasons.
17 kcal/100 g; 93.7% water, 2.0% protein, 0.1% fat, 3.3% carbohydrate, 1.2% ash
Recipes with seri
- Seriyaki / water dropwort with konnyaku noodles and thin deep-fried tofu
- Karifurawaa to satoimo, daikon, seri no surinagashi / cauliflower, baby taro root and daikon radish white miso potage soup with water dropwort
- Seri to toriniku no karashijoyu-ae / water dropwort and chicken in mustard soy sauce dressing
- Seri soba / buckwheat noodles with water dropwort
- Shiifuudo to daizu moyashi no kankoku mushi / haemul jjim / steamed seafood and soybean sprouts Korean style
Try seri in the following recipes
- Suigyoza no chige-fu nabe / jjigae-style hotpot with shui jiao dumplings
- Horenso to shungiku, kikka no ohitashi / spinach, garland chrysanthemum and chrysanthemum flowers in light broth
- Asazuke hakusai kimuchi / quick napa cabbage kimchi
- Mitsuba to kumiage-yuba no wasabijoyu-ae / mitsuba and fresh tofu skin dressed with wasabi soy sauce
- Tonyu miso nikomi udon / hot-pot udon wheat noodles in red miso and soy milk broth
- Petoraaru karei no kankoku-fu pirikara-ni / braised petrale sole in mildly spicy sauce, Korean style
- Yosenabe / hot pot with assorted ingredients
- Chirimushi / steamed fish, tofu, vegetables and mushrooms, with citrus-flavored soy sauce
- Sakana no karashiage to kinsai, mizuna, radisshu no aemono / karashi mustard-flavored deep-fried fish and Chinese celery, mizuna and radish
- Sumooku saamon to shungiku no mazegohan / steamed rice with smoked salmon and garland chrysanthemum
- Tentojidon / tempura simmered in broth and egg on rice
- Kaki no dote-nabe / hot pot with oysters, broiled tofu and vegetables with miso
- Nanohana no namuru / field mustard namul (gochujang flavor)
- Gyoza no pirikara-nabe / mildly spicy hot pot with jiaozi dumplings and kimchi
- Hotate no mazegohan / steamed rice mixed with scallops
- Nameshi / steamed rice mixed with leafy greens
- Yukimi-nabe / hot pot with tofu and grated daikon radish
- Chapuche / japchae stir-fried vermicelli and vegetables
(Last updated: January 31, 2017)