Chinese Toon Time !
香椿 xiāngchūn, usually called Chinese toon in English, are the spring buds from the Chinese Toon tree, or Chinese Mahogany tree (Toona sinensis). The delicious sprouts are usually only available from the beginning of April a couple of weeks.
Chinese toon sprouts are known for its special nutty, slightly bitter flavor with hints of onion, a popular ingredient in dishes all over China such as omelets, battered deep fried, tofu salad or dumplings.
The sprouts include a rich pallet of of vitamins, minerals and health nutrients. A study in 2020 detected the presence of toonasinenoid consituents, new types of limonoids with neuroprotective health properties.
Available in the markets this season but people also cut the sprouts with long stick scissors from the many toon trees in residence compounds or parks. Later on towards summer, sprouts will mature too fast.
The fruits, bark, leaves and roots of the Chinese Mahogany tree have been used in traditional Chinese Medicine since ancient times. Stems and leaves for dysentery and itchiness, roots as corrective, bark as astringent and depurative, and fruit as astringent for eye infections.
Going way back in Chinese culture, the Chinese Mahogany tree is a metaphor symbolizing the father in Chinese poetry and literature. Examples include references in early Chinese literature such as in the Zhuangzi, a Daoist text compiled during the Warring States Period (4th century BC), as well as later in classics such as “The Journey to the West,” a famous episodic novel written in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).