1 very easy 10 min blanch kikka kikuka make ahead marinate Recipes - Japanese reduced sodium shiokoji shungiku spinach

Horenso to shungiku, kikka no ohitashi / spinach, garland chrysanthemum and chrysanthemum flowers in light broth

Kikuzuki, or chrysanthemum month, is another name for September in the old calendar in Japan — today’s October. So here is an ordinary ohitashi featuring the iconic flower of  the season.

1/2 of recipe: 17 calories; 1.7 g protein; 0.3 g fat; 2.8 g carbohydrate; 0.7 g net carbs; 83 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.1 g fiber


1/3-1/2 bunch (80-100 g) spinach (90 g in photo)
Small handful shungiku garland chrysanthemum (36 g in photo)
1.5 g dried kikka (kikuka) chrysanthemum flowers

For ohitashi marinade
150 cc dashi
3/4 tsp usukuchi soy sauce
1/2 tsp shiokoji salted rice malt


Mix all ingredients for ohitashi marinade, and set aside.


Bring plenty of water to boil to blanch leafy greens and to rehydrate dried chrysanthemum flowers.
Place flowers in a prep bowl, and pour some boiling water to rehydrate.

After 1 minute, transfer rehydrated petals to cold water to cool. 

Squeeze out excess water, and keep in the fridge.


Blanch green vegetables.
Here, shungiku leaves are cut or torn into 3-4 cm, put in a basket, and quickly blanched until color brightens.

Shungiku leaves are then immediately transferred to cold water to stop cooking. 

When cool enough, transfer to strainer.


In the same boiling water, blanch spinach, putting stem ends first.

When leaf color brightens, immediately transfer to cold water. 

When cool enough, squeeze out excess water, cut into 3-4 cm, 

Squeeze again, and put in ohitashi marinade.


Likewise, squeeze out excess water from shungiku, and put in ohitashi marinade.

Put in the fridge. 


About 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to serving, bring ohitashi out of the fridge.
Add chrysanthemum flowers, and gently mix.

Serve at room temperature or slightly cold.


  • Make sure dashi or ohitashi marinade is cold or at least cool to room temperature before soaking vegetables.
  • As vegetables soaked longer (half a day to overnight) would naturally taste saltier, the above seasoning is relatively light. If serving this within a few hours, taste before serving, and add a tiny amount of shiokoji or salt to adjust the taste.
  • If usukuchi soy sauce is not available, regular soy sauce works fine. If using regular soy sauce, you might want to use slightly more shiokoji or salt (and less soy sauce if retaining vegetable color is a concern). 
  • Among edible chrysanthemum flowers, yellow flowers, which often appear as garnish on sashimi plates, are more common than magenta or reddish purple flowers. 
  • Yellow edible chrysanthemum flowers are available year around as kikunori (dried chrysanthemum flower sheets; a round sheet folded into a square in photo at right). Basically, 1 gram of kikunori is equivalent to 1 chrysanthemum flower.
  • The above nutrition figures are based on the assumption that 31% of ohitashi marinade is consumed with the vegetables, which are marinated for 3 hours.
  • The other, more commonly known name for September in the old calendar is nagatsuki [lit. long month]. The Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1873 as the official calendar in Japan, yet a number of traditional or customarily events still follow the old calendar today.

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