Ginnan (ginkgo nuts) – worth the effort (and smell!)

There are few things as strikingly beautiful as the glassy nightingale green color of a cooked ginnan (ginkgo nut). During cooking, ginnan mysteriously phase between deep green, nightingale green, and yellow.

The cooked ginnan have a grassy aroma and peculiar texture resembling jelly beans. Somehow, this oddball nut is a perfect fit for the Japanese palate. For a true delicacy, grill them on skewers kushiyaki style, or drop them into kakiage fritters.

However, it takes a lot of effort to reach the final edible state. First, you need to withstand the stench of the pulpy ginkgofruit as you extract the hard nut. Then, you must cook the ginnan and carefully extract the tender meat from the stubborn shells. But just imagine how much better it will taste after all that work!

Here’s a relatively easy way to crack these nuts: “fuuto ginnan” (“envelope ginkgo”). Just put the nuts into an envelope with some salt, and microwave them until you hear the seeds pop.

Please give this Japanese autumn delicacy a try!