A Taste of Spring
Many spring foods do not yield full-bodied flavor that long, hot days bring. But there are many simple ways in which spring foods can be enjoyed.
Early arrivals whet our appetites before summer’s bounty
Spring food is hardly sexy. The first growth—greens, radishes, green onions—does not yield full-bodied flavor that long, hot days will bring us. We will have to wait a few months for luscious melons, corn and tomatoes.
Yet spring foods can be enjoyed in many simple ways. Sliced radishes held on great bread with sweet butter is a European classic. Tender green leaves mixed with the last of the seasonal oranges bridges the seasons. But they are so prolific and the garden can produce so much, cooks can reach a frustration point before the supply runs out.
I am always intrigued by what practitioners of ancient cuisines can teach us about using seasonal food. Korean pan chan (or banchan)—those little dishes with tastes of assorted pickled, fermented and otherwise spiced foods that arrive at the table first—are the fun part of the meal and show off a number of seasonal foods in a variety of delicious ways.
And Chinese cuisine offers solutions like no other for the sometimes-overabundance of produce that comes in CSA boxes. The classic hot-sour-salty-sweet combo gets a boost here from the rich flavor of sesame. Use it with asparagus, or that mound of greens that stares back at you from the CSA box.