Chicken with Chrysanthemum Leaves (Shungiku) and Cucumber

chick_shungikupLearning that certain kinds of chrysanthemum have edible leaves which actually taste fabulous was a stunning discovery, so several years ago I bought lots of seeds in Japan, hoping this plant would grow on my balcony. I soon realised not only that this chrysanthemum was one of the easiest and fastest growing plants, but also that it could be harvested as already as April and as late as October. This year, for the first chrysanthemum cooking session I chose a very simple, refreshing chicken and cucumber stir-fry.

If you grow chrysanthemums for flowers, beware! Not all the chrysanthemum leaves are edible, but Garland Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum coronarium), aka crown daisy (called shungiku 春菊 in Japanese and sukgat in Korean) definitely is. According to Wikipedia it is eaten not only in Japan and Korea, but also in China, Taiwan, Vietnam and even Crete. Garland chrysanthemum is not only a delicious addition to cold and warm dishes, but it’s also very healthy: it contains minerals, vitamins, potassium and antioxidants. If you don’t have a garden, you can very easily grow it on your balcony or window sill, just like I do. As I have mentioned, this plant is probably the quickest and easiest growing among all the herbs I sow on my tiny balcony (well, maybe only rocket beats it) and I even harvest my own seeds every year.

Until now I’ve posted only one recipe with chrysanthemum leaves (Chawan Mushi/Egg Custard with chicken and Shungiku), but they are very easy to test in stir-fries, salads, soups and also simmered dishes. No matter how you cook them, you should add them at the last step because they wilt very quickly or even add them just before serving. Here I did both: warmed some leaves and then sprinkled some raw uncooked ones on top.

Preparation: about 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

1 chicken breast, skinned

1/2 long cucumber, cut into sticks (about 1/2 cm/1/5 in thick); if you use a long cucumber, don’t peel it: it will be crunchier

a small handful of Garland chrysanthemum leaves/shungiku (cut up into bite-sized length, if the leaves are long)



2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon sake

1 teaspoon mirin (or, if you prefer a less sweet sauce, add one more teaspoon of sake instead)


(toasted sesame seeds)

(some chrysanthemum leaves to sprinkle before serving)

Cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Sprinkle some salt (not too much because you’ll be adding soy sauce afterwards).

Heat the oil in a pan and the chicken until it becomes golden on both sides.

Add the cucumber, the sauce and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Add the chrysanthemum leaves and and stir-fry for 10 seconds.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and raw chrysanthemum leaves. Serve.





14 Replies to “Chicken with Chrysanthemum Leaves (Shungiku) and Cucumber”

  1. I heard of Chrysanthemum as a flower, didn’t realise it was edible. Very interesting, and even more interesting that you manage to find these less known ingredients.
    I still haven’t tried shiso, which you haven’t mentioned in a while:)

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. Please just don’t try eating random chrysanthemum leaves 😉 I’m not sure if other varieties aren’t toxic… but if you find this variety, you will enjoy it as much as I do, I’m sure!
      I’m angry at shiso… This year it doesn’t sprout… I think seeds are too old (shiso has very moody seeds; they sprout only for a year and then expire… I have to look for “younger” ones or keep on buying the Thai, imported red shiso… but it’s not so much fun.

  2. I’ve heard of edible flowers but not edible leaves. Learn something new from you all of the time! I love this simple little dish, basically, chicken, chrysanthemums leaves and cucumber. How hard can that be? 🙂 I think it was you or Nami that turned me on to the combo of soy sauce, saki and mirin. Ever since I tried it about a year ago, I can’t get enough of it. I’ve used it in salads, as a dipping sauce, on noodle and just a simple chicken dish like this one. Because of that I know how good this dish is. 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ! It is extremely easy and you can add any other herb you like and love because due to the delicate flavours it stands out!

  3. You always have the most interesting recipes Sissi and I always learn something new! What a nice refreshing curry and the leaves sound like the perfect garnish. I’ll keep my eye open for this green in my Asian market, I’d love to try it.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva, for the compliments! I’m not sure if it’s sold in shops, but I’m sure seeds are quite easy to obtain in gardening shops and it grows very very quickly! I hope you can taste it.

  4. How amazing that you grew your own mum leaves from seeds Sissi — and right there on your balcony ready to go as early as April… amazing! (yet, despite you sharing with us that they are easy to grow, why do I suspect I wouldn’t have the same success, LOL). The ones you’ve added on top look so pretty and natural in their raw form (that subtle green is just a stunner) — what do they taste like? Your sauce sounds so delicious for this refreshing spring dish Sissi.

    1. “Mum leaves” 🙂 You are so sweet, Kelly! Thank you for the compliments. As always bringing a smile to my face. I now have two pots filled with small forests of shungiku!!! And it’s only May… I can assure you not everything grows well in my “garden” because I’m lazy and not very attentive (shiso doesn’t grow at all this year, out of all the basil grains only one has sprouted, some other plants don’t grow either… but chrysanthemum is one of the most relaxing plants to grow… always sprout and very quickly).
      The leaves taste slightly peppery and it’s very funny because they do smell slightly like chrysanthemum and one expects them to be bitter but they aren’t bitter at all. They have a very delicate taste. You should try growing it. It’s also sold on … Amazon I’m sure 😉

  5. I had no idea that some chrysanthemum flowers are edible! I love the ones I grow in my garden and I am sure this chicken must have a very aromatic flavor. I’ve learned something new today!

    1. Thank you, Katerina. If you grow Garland chrysanthemum, you might want to test the leaves too!

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