Chinese Toon Sprouts (Xiang Chun) 香椿芽

Chinese toon leaves are possibly one of the most popular seasonal vegetables in the country and seeing them in the markets give us hope that warm weather is just around the corner. This tree is the only tree with edible  leaves known to North Asia. The leaves are often cooked in an omelet, however are also extremely tasty served in a tofu salad with oil, lemon juice and walnuts.

If you prefer a more fusion style, we recommend this recipe from the Norwegians.

No matter how you decide to cook them, just ensure that if you decide to pick the leaves straight from the tree that you opt for the fragrant toon as opposed to the inedible smelly toon. The best variety is the dark pink or purple toon leaves which are crisp, crunchy and truly aromatic, but you better be quick as these tasty treats are usually only in season for 2 weeks.

Full of anitoxidants, these  shoots are also rich in nutrients and contain protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 and B2 as well as loads of lipids.To read more about these little health wonders, Pauline D Loh suggests that these leaves have become the new micro-greens in Beijing restaurants.

Photo by Pauline D Loh China Daily