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Tong Ho: Edible Chrysanthemum Greens

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Here's an Asian green you'll see on your herb plate when you order soup noodles this time of year. It's called tan in Vietnamese, tong ho in Chinese, and shingiku in Japanese. Edible chrysanthemum leaves, as they are known in English, can be eaten lightly cooked or chopped up raw in salads. They have a nice, light peppery taste that makes them ideal soup greens. Torn up fresh leaves tossed in a bowl of hot soup get just the right amount of cooking but stay pleasantly crunchy.

Tong ho is also valued as a medicine by Chinese herbalists. In Chinese herbal medicine, the body is compared to a tree. During each season, a different part of the tree needs tending. In the winter, the roots must be fed. In the analogy, the kidneys are part of the body's root system, and they are replenished with a diet that includes lots of leafy greens. Whatever the rationale, tong ho is high in vitamin B.

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