Hungry for Hostas

Hostas are a popular plant species known for their lush green leaves and delicate flowers. These plants are native to Asia and are often grown as ornamental plants in gardens and landscapes around the world. However, in Japan, hostas are also cultivated as a crop for their edible leaves, known as Urui.

Urui has been a traditional food in Japan for centuries and is still consumed in various forms today. The leaves are typically harvested in the early spring when they are young and tender, and are then boiled or stir-fried with other vegetables, tofu, or meat. Urui is known for its sweet and slightly bitter taste, and is rich in vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to any meal.

In contrast, in Ireland and many other parts of the world, hostas are primarily grown as ornamental plants. They are admired for their elegant foliage and are often used to add texture and color to gardens and landscapes. While there is no tradition of eating hostas in Ireland, some gardeners have recently begun to experiment with using hosta leaves in cooking.

In Japan, hostas are grown specifically for consumption, and farmers take great care to ensure that the plants are grown in a safe and sustainable way. Urui is an important part of Japanese cuisine and is celebrated for its unique flavor and nutritional value.

Overall, while hostas may be primarily known as an ornamental plant in Ireland and other parts of the world, they have a long history as a food crop in Japan. As more people become interested in sustainable and locally-sourced foods, it will be interesting to see if hostas become more widely recognized as a nutritious and tasty addition to the dinner table.

Urui, or hosta leaves, are a traditional Japanese ingredient that has been enjoyed for centuries. Here are two classic recipes that feature Urui:

Goma-ae is a traditional Japanese dish where vegetables are dressed with a sweet and savory sesame sauce. Urui is a popular vegetable for goma-ae, and it pairs well with the nutty flavor of sesame. Here’s a simple recipe for Urui Goma-ae:

1 bunch Urui (hosta furls), about 10-12 furls
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tablespoon water

Remove the stems from the Urui furls and blanch them in boiling water for about 1-2 minutes until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until fragrant and lightly browned. Grind the sesame seeds in a suribachi (Japanese mortar and pestle) or a food processor.

In a small saucepan, combine the ground sesame seeds, sugar, soy sauce, mirin, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy.

Toss the blanched Urui leaves with the sesame sauce and serve.

Nimono is a traditional Japanese simmered dish that features a variety of vegetables and protein cooked in a flavorful broth. Urui is a popular vegetable for nimono, and it adds a delicate flavor and texture to the dish. Here’s a simple recipe for Urui Nimono:


1 bunch Urui (hosta furls), about 10-12 leaves
1 cup dashi (Japanese broth)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt


Remove the stems from the Urui furls and cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
In a medium-sized pot, combine the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Add the Urui leaves to the pot and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the Urui leaves are tender and the flavors have melded together.
Serve the Urui Nimono hot or at room temperature.

These two classic Japanese recipes showcase the unique flavor and versatility of Urui, or hosta furls. Enjoy them as a part of a balanced and nutritious diet.


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