Autumn brings brown, orange, and red leaves to life. But just as the nickname for the season suggests, all of these leaves soon start to fall. As they pile up on the ground, they cover sidewalks, clog gutters, and create quite a mess. If you have maple trees messing up your yard, there is something you can do besides rake them up into plastic trash bags. You can make a delicious gourmet treat inspired after Japanese cuisine.
In Japan, maple leaves serve a double purpose; they are a tree ornament that turns into a food in the fall. As the Japanese maple leaves tumble to the ground they are collected, cleaned and then made into a crispy treat. In the Osaka region of Japan, these sweet fried leaves are considered a specialized delicacy known as momiji. Learn how to make them yourself here!
Some pro maple leave bakers leave their selection of foliage in a salt barrel for an entire year before preparing and consuming the dish. Although you can go outside and find maple leaves ready to eat right now!
To make fried Japanese maple leaves:
-Clean and wash the leaves thoroughly
-Dry the leaves
-Dip them in tempura that is sweetened with sugar and sesame (you can always get creative and add your own extras to the mix!)
-Fry in hot vegetable oil or maple syrup; fry them quickly until they turn brown
-Leave the tempura leaves out on a cooling rack before eating
How do you make the Tempura the leaves are dipped in?
-Beat 1 egg
-Add 1 cup of ice water
-Add 1 cup flour to the mixture
-Lightly mix, but don’t overdo it
Momiji is served in restaurants, packaged to go on the streets, and made in the comfort of peoples’ houses. The maple leaf may be the nationally recognized symbol for Canada, but in Japan it makes for a traditional treat the locals, as well as people from all over the world, love to eat.
The Japanese maple tree is native to both China and Japan, and grows anywhere from 2 feet to over 30 feet. It is a common belief that if a child passes through a maple tree’s branches it is good luck in regards to a long and healthy life full of abundance and success.
Momiji tempura has been a popular dish served in Japan for over one thousand years. The actual leaves carry very little flavor, and so the tastes are derived from the batter they are cooked in. This allows cooks to create a number of different tasting leaves by simply switching up the ingredients used in the batter. Locals say that the recipe has been tweaked a number of times throughout the years to create the delicious taste momiji is known for today.
Want to plant your own maple tree? The best time to start a new tree is in the fall. Japanese maples do best in soil that is slightly acidic and composed of well-drained organic material. There are a variety of maple trees often categorized by the size and shape of their leaves. Some maple variations do well in the sun and others do well in the shade. If left in direct sunlight for too long, the leaves of a maple tree will burn.
If you are ever in Osaka make sure to get yourself a serving of momiji to see what the buzz is all about!