Food Forum
Vol. 36 No. 1   Spring 2022

SPIRIT OF THE SEASONS

Taranome たらの芽

Taranome Aralia elata sprouts

Taranome Aralia elata sprouts, sometimes referred to as the king of edible wild plants, they embody the essence of springtime in Japan with their distinctive aroma. Aralia elata is a tree which grows naturally in woodlands and mountains throughout the country, and its new offshoots can be picked between April and early June.

During their peak season, the spearheads of natural taranome grow dark, while the rest of the sprout darkens and turns golden ash-brown—a sign that they are particularly tender. Taranome picked in this moment have high mineral content, especially potassium; they also contain considerable amounts of beneficial plant fat and high quality protein, which is why some describe taranome as “butter that grows in the mountains.”

Taranome tempura

Taranome are usually eaten as tempura, a combination of delicious crispy batter, slightly bitter taste and somewhat springy texture. Taranome can also be used to make ohitashi boiled vegetable salad dressed with dashi and soy sauce, or may be sautéed and added to pasta dishes.