First of all, don’t overeat (it may cause food poisoning). Or don’t eat at all if you are susceptible to its side effects. But if you’re free from those worries, it’s a delightful foodstuff. As autumn deepens, you see town streets decorated with golden leaves of Ichō (ginkgo) trees, and their seeds (or fruits) are called Ginnan. The fascination lies in its yellow-green colour combined with gem-like lustre, the sensation when teeth are grinding its soft and elastic texture, and mildly bitter taste. Often added to Chawan Mushi (a cup of steamed egg curd). But it also becomes a fancy Otsumami (a side dish for alcoholic drinks), sprinkled with salt, and here’s a tip how to prepare it. Pick up some hard-shelled Ginnan seeds and lightly hammer them until they get a small crack. Place them in a small paper bag (thick one is better), close the bag by tightly folding the top and put it in the microwave oven to heat (60 to 90 sec. with 500W power). When a few nuts pop, it’s the time! Be careful: If you overcook, the food will become hard or explode in the oven.
(Photo: Ginnan nuts; some of them with the shell cracked.)