Savory Dried Horsetails

According to the calendar, tomorrow, March 20, is the vernal equinox. The start of spring.

I’m not sure Mama Nature’s northern hemisphere is aware of this event. Yes, we’ve had lovely weather these past few days, but there’s that thing called global warming which lately has been throwing off Mama’s cycles.


According to my copy of The Heart of Zen Cuisine: A 600-year tradition of vegetarian cooking, I’m supposed to start eating Savory Dried Horsetails.


I’ll post the temple’s recipe, and you pick the horsetails, because I have no idea where to find them.

Tell me, do you have the same 2 other questions I have?*


Savory Dried Horsetail (干しつくし/Hoshi Tsukushi)

The common Japanese field horsetail (Equisetum arvense), gathered as soon as it appears in spring, becomes a marvelous snack with little effort. The same variety of horsetail grows in other countries, but I [Soei Yoneda, the cookbook author] am not sure whether or not other varieties can be prepared in the same manner. Nonetheless, this little snack is a great luxury and is worth including here just because it exists. (A note of caution: horsetail contains a toxin – thiaminase – which is destroyed by heat. Do not eat horsetail raw.)

Snack, Serves 6-8.

  • 1 cup field horsetails (firm fresh young heads and 3/8-inch (1 cm) of stalk)
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1) Place horsetails and soy sauce in a samll saucepan and bring to a boil quickly.

2) Reduce heat to medium, then simmer, covered, for 3-5 minutes. Set pan lid ajar and continue simmering until heads are just soft. Drain.

3) Place horsetails in a shallow colander or basket supported between bricks and dry in the sun for 1 week. It obviously is important to have a week of continuous sunny weather to dry the horsetails.

4) Keeps indefinitely in a closed container, though the flavor changes with time. If horsetails get a little moist, just dry for 1/2 day or so.

Another Zen cuisine recipe using a somewhat hazardous food.
Buddhist monks are living on the edge.


*a) How did the Buddhist monks discover the not-so-healthy chemical in horsetail?

b) A week of continuous sun? What??

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