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A mesmerizing bunch of shoots

By PAULINE D LOH | China Daily | Updated: 2019-03-16 09:26
[Photo provided to China Daily]

Despite being something of an acquired taste, toon tree leaves bring the taste of spring to the table

We have a couple of trees at the bottom of our garden that never seem to grow very tall, or broad. That's because they get a very hard trimming in spring each year when the sap finally flows and they put out tender bunches of maroon-colored shoots.

These are our precious Chinese toon trees, and our nanny watches them like a hawk every year when shoots bud along the nodes for just a few short weeks.

If they are not harvested in time, they all disappear overnight, to enrich the dining table of someone else.

Toon is probably the only tree vegetable in China, and its leaves are pungent and definitely an acquired taste. You can say it is the litmus test for the adventurous foreign gourmet, along with century eggs, stinky tofu and Beijing bean juice.

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