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Each Mekanzou is less than two inches in length. Mekanzou offer a slightly sweet taste and tender texture when young. Older sprouts will be more fibrous and have a slightly bitter aftertaste. A perennial plant, Mekanzou bloom beautiful edible flowers that as their name indicates, last for only one day.
Mekanzou are available in the winter and early summer months.
Mekanzou also known as bud licorice and day lily sprouts are a member of the Xanthorrhoeaceae family, subfamily Hemerocallidoideae. In addition to the sprouts the buds, roots, leaves and flowers of the daylily are edible. The dried flowers also known as golden needles and gum jum are utilized in culinary applications as well.
Mekanzou have long been used as a natural medicine in Japan and China. They are utilized to treat those that suffer from coughs and stress. Mekanzou have also been used to treat snake bites, food poisoning, puffer fish poisoning and bacterial toxin. They can help to improve digestion and liver damage in the body. Consumption of Mekanzou for a long period of time may cause edema and high-blood pressure.
Mekanzou make an ideal addition to rice dishes, stir-fries, soups and marinated dishes. They can be steamed, sautéed, fried and pickled. In Japan, they are often dipped in tempura and fried. Mekanzou have a short shelf life, therefore it is best to eat them as soon as they are harvested.
Mekanzou with a new sprout are believed to bring a good fortune in the coming year, so Japanese people use them in Osechi Ryori, a traditional dish prepared for New Years.
In Japan, Mekanzou grow wild on banks and the hills in the field. They are considered to be Sansai or edible wild plant. In Japan they are grown predominately in Tokushima prefecture and Ibaragi prefecture. While not typically found in stores in the United States, Mekanzou or daylily sprouts as they are known as in the states are sought after by wild food gatherers and utilized by some chefs as well.