Fantastic Fried Fall Foliage

maple leaves

There are plenty of maple trees in the US.

They’re stunning and vibrant while they last.

But once the leaves finish their cycle, they can give major headaches when it comes to clogged gutters and unraked yards.

The Japanese, however, have transformed this autumnal waste into a delicious seasonal delicacy by deep-frying maple leaves in a sweetened batter.

Yes, you read that right.

Though maple trees are famously known for their lip-smacking syrup made from the maple sap, there are lots the maple can offer besides just the sap. 

dried maple leaves

Instead of the same old roasted chestnuts and pumpkin spice lattes that everyone else has come to expect every fall, the Japanese are once again taking seasonal snacks to an entirely new level!

They are making delicious crisp-fried maple leaves.

Seasonal Japanese speciality

Like the cherry blossoms sakura that blooms in the spring, the Japanese maple momiji is an iconic symbol of autumn.

The deep-fried maple leaves, known as momiji tempura in Japan, are a seasonal delicacy that can only be obtained in Minoh Park, a gorgeous forest on the northern outskirts of Osaka.

Minoh Park is well-known for being a prime spot in the Kansai area to witness the spectacular colours of autumn foliage.

When visitors swarm to the Minoh Park mountains during the autumn leaves viewing season, they would easily find vendors and shops that sell momiji tempura along their way.

Minoh Park Japan

Momiji takes around a year to prepare because of the meticulous process involved in its creation.

Yellow maple leaves are the most popular choice for making momiji since they have delicate veins and their colour doesn’t fade much throughout the procedure.

The leaves are packed with salt and kept for a year. Why preserve these leaves for so long, you may ask?

It is because the leaves will take on an ideal texture after being deep-fried, enhancing the flavour without losing much of their vibrant colour.

Once the leaves have been separated from their stems, they are rinsed thoroughly to remove any remaining salt, dried, and then deep fried in the tempura butter coating until crisp.

Some vendors even sprinkle on sesame seeds as a finishing touch to amp up the flavour.

Don’t eat these crispy leaves straight out of the frying pan.

You’ll have to be a bit patient as they have to be left overnight to remove as much oil as possible. Yet, if not done properly, the taste of frying oil might be overwhelming.

Momiji tempura

Momiji tempura has a unique flavour that is slightly sweet, salty in the veins, crunchy, and not at all leaf-like.

One bite of a deep-fried maple leaf, and you’ll never look at a maple tree the same way again!

There’s a good reason to fry maple leaves

Most maple leaves are edible, including those of the sugar maple, silver maple, green maple, and of course, the Japanese maple.

Surprisingly, these maple leaves are not only edible but also beneficial to our health.

Maple leaves are rich in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen, all of which are essential for the maple’s healthy development and growth.

Not only does the maple tree hugely benefit from the nutrients hidden in the leaves, but so do we and many other animals.

It is believed that maple leaves contain a wealth of health-promoting phytochemicals.

Also, the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds they contain are excellent for easing the symptoms of indigestion and other digestive problems.

fried maple leaves

So, you know what activity you can plan ahead for the upcoming maple leaves season.

This could be a lot of fun as an alternative to the same old pumpkin carving. Though the final results require much patience, maybe you’ll end up having a scrumptious leafy snack when next fall rolls around.

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