The leaves of this pretty vegetable are green on the surface but the other side is vivid purple.
With its striking appearance, handama stands out among the other local leafy vegetables in markets.
This perennial plant belongs to the family Compositae and grows to 40 to 50 centimeters.
The cute flowers are orange with a shape like a chrysanthemum or dandelion. As the vegetable contains lots of vitamins A and B2 as well as iron, handama is known in Okinawa as a medicine for healthy blood.
The story of handama appears in an 1832 book called “Gyozenhonzou” by Tokashiki Peechin Tsuukan, which is about the relationship between food and healthy life in Okinawa. Handama was known as kannonna back then. It is mentioned that handama as an “effective remedy for easing headache or swollen eyes.” Also it says that it is “good for liver health” that users “can expect improved blood circulation and increased longevity with long-term use.” You can tell that handama has been used as an herbal medicine in Okinawa for a long time.
Handama is slightly bitter and somewhat sticky. Raw leaves are good for salad and with tofu, sesame paste, miso or vinegar. Also, it can be stir-fried with pork or canned tuna.
As handama is more like a herbal medicine than vegetable, I would like to introduce you a healthy recipe: Boroboro juushii.
Juushii in the Okinawan dialect means seasoned rice. Juushii can be found in any Okinawan soba restaurant.
The regular juushii is seasoned steamed rice, but boroboro juushii takes the form of porridge. I like the name because it sounds so cute.
When you don't have much appetite, are sick, or if you just need some energy, boroboro juushii is a perfect food. In fact, it is a tradition in my family. You can add whatever ingredients you have at home to this recipe.
It is very easy to make. First you make a broth with kelp and bonito flakes. Then, you add chopped kelp, ginger and handama.
You can add some sliced pork belly for flavor or added stamina.
Cook rice in the broth at low heat. If you start with cooked rice, it should be done in 20 minutes.
In my family, we use salt to taste, but you can use miso or soy sauce instead for variety.
During New Years celebrations in Okinawa, we have a tradition: We make naajuushii (seasoned porridge with seasonal wild vegetables and meat) on the seventh day of the first month of the lunar calendar. On the mainland, people eat porridge with seven specific wild vegetables on January 7 for the perfect state of health. We use vegetables such as mugwort , Swiss chard, mustard and so on and they vary. We offer naajuushii to the deceased or the god of fire for the perfect state of health.
I personally recommend the addition of handama to your boroboro juushii for its pretty color. The brilliant purple may give you added energy.
I feel actually feel better when I eat my seventh day boroborojuushii in the new year. By all means, give boroboro juushii with handama a try for healthy life.
Ingredients (serves one):
Handama (2 -3 bunches)
Sliced pork belly (one slice)
Ginger (one piece)
Dried kelp (10 cm)
Some bonito flakes
Salt to taste
Cooked rice (half in rice bowl)
1. Bring water and kelp to boil. Add bonito flakes, turn the heat off and let sit for a while.
2. Remove the kelp from the pot and chop it up. You can remove the bonito too if you use the chunk type.
3. Bring to a boil. Add chopped ginger and pork belly.
4. Rinse the cooked rice on colander to remove the stickiness, then add to the pot.
5. Add chopped handama and simmer over low heat for a while. Add salt to taste.
Glass dish: Sakae Matsumoto
Pottery: Katsufumi Shimabukuro
Wooden spoon: Tetsuya Morita
Shooting studio and styling: Gallery Haraiso