Wild Foraging in Nagano

The weather has been perfect this Golden week, or Gaman (endurance) Week as it has been renamed for 2020.


Kogomi growing in Iiyama, Nagano
These curly wurly kogomi are a little bit too big to eat but so pretty

Well at least in Iiyama, social distancing is always an option! Last night we took to the hills, searching for kogomi, the beautifully named, and delicious, ostrich fern.

A field of ostrich ferns growing in Iiyama, Nagano
After the snow melts in the mountains, these ferns are the first green things to sprout up.

Our buddy, Shimizu-San, knows a secret spot, way up in the hills, where the kogomi grow big and juicy. There used to be houses and a school up here, can you believe?!

Kogomi ferns in the mountains
These ferns are growing on the slopes of a remote valley that was once inhabited.

But now there’s no one here but us foragers. We got a mighty haul, enough for us to eat every day for a week and to drop off to our neighbours too. Sharing is caring after all.

The first thing to do with these green curly ostrich feathers is get the forest fluff off them, so they took a good bath in plenty of cold water. I saved the best ones for tempura and boiled the rest for 2 minutes before refreshing in a cold water bath. As you would for asparagus, the shorter the cooking time the better. We’ll eat them with mayonnaise and soy sauce later in the week.

A plate of kogomi tempura
A plate of kogomi tempura – crispy and delicious, the flavour reminds me of fresh garden peas.

Tonight though, we eat tempura! I whipped up a quick batter with flour and water, before dropping in the kogomi and briefly frying them in hot oil. Add a little salt and ta-dah! A crispy delicious taste of spring.

How about joining us for a little foraging trip next year?