I thought that since the first message received about this blog concerned vegetarian sushi, it is only fair that the first introduction to a seasonal ingredient to sushi should a matter of joy for Vegetarians (incidentally I am not a vegetarian). Moreover, vegetarians will have little excuse to refuse an invitation to a sushi bar/restaurant any longer!
« Rape Blossoms » (a strange name if there ever was!), or Na no Hana in Japanese, are Spring plants used both for their edibility when young and later for their oil pressed out of their tiny seeds. The same flowers are used in Eurpe and America for their oil and also their decorative value in gardens and parks.
When you buy rape blossoms (usually sold in bunches), check that the bottom end of their stems haven’t dried out. Incidentally this also apllies to green asparaguses which can prepared in almost the same exact manner.
First drop them in a pot of slightly salted water jut before boiling point for as long as you would do for fresh spinach. One minute maximum. Then transfer them immediately into a bowl of cold water to stop them cooking and preserve their colour.
Drain and gently press water out of them. Fold them inside kitchen paper for a few minutes to take as much as water out as possible.
You can arrange them on « nigiri », « gunkan », « maki » or simply as a slad appetizer. Season them to your taste, although they are their best added with crushed sesame seeds dressing (« goma tare » in Japanese). Before arranging them as sushi, it might be better to mix them with a bit of such dressing, unless you wish to go for their real taste and paste the rice with a little wasabi first. A tad of lemon juice would go weel with it, too. If you do not use « goma tare », just sprinkle some roasted sesame seeds on top!