Ginnan – 銀杏
Shortly after arriving to Japan for the first time I went one day to Shibuya to have dinner and I ate this:
My Japanese friends told me that they were Ginnan, a fruit of the Ichou 銀杏 tree, known in the west as ginkgo biloba. I had never heard anything about this, so I was curious to know more. They explained me that the first kanji means “Silver” and the second “Apricot”. The tree is originary from China and it is very special because it doesn’t have any close living relatives. In Japan and China you can usually see ginkgos in parks and streets.
In Europe it’s not easy to find ginnan in supermarkets. However many products and medicines have gingko extract as an ingredient. It turns out it has many interesting properties, for example it is good for blood circulation and it has a lot of antioxidants. If you look at the ingredients of energy drinks or vitamin supplements you might find it contains some kind of ginkgo extract.
In addition to eating raw ginnan, there are also many recipes that use it, for example chawanmushi which is made mainly of egg and ginnan.
Chawanmushi, one of the main ingredients are ginnan (ginkgo seeds).