As fall colors swirl around us, and the air gets crisper, there’s really only one appropriately-seasonal treat out there. Spoiler alert: it’s not #PSL.

It’s a Japanese snack called momiji tempura, or deep-fried maple leaves made with a sweet tempura batter.


Photo: Lens On Japan

Although fried maple leaves are a 1,000-year-old tradition, you can’t get this treat just anywhere in Japan. The most popular place in Japan to find momiji tempura is the city of Mino, which is known for its stately and beautiful Japanese maple trees, according to Kotaku.

momiji tempura 5

Photo: Instagram/zoomingjapan

As you might expect, these leaves aren’t simply gathered off the ground, battered, and fried.

Instead, they’re first preserved in salt for a year. Momiji vendors then dunk the preserved leaves in a secret tempura batter recipe and fry away for about 20 minutes. The batter is usually sweet, and sometimes contains sesame seeds.

So while you’re looking at beautiful changing foliage colors, you can simultaneously be stuffing your face with delicately-fried maple leaves. We don’t think it’s possible to get much more autumnal than that.

momiji tempura leaves 4

Photo: Twitter/@harukaze_0721

Like most fried things, they taste best when they’re fresh. But you can apparently also buy them in packages, if you want to take some autumnal deliciousness to go.

momiji tempura leaves

Photo: Flickr/klmubert

Now for the most important question: how do they taste? 

We’ll turn this answer over to Lens On Japan,

“Unlike real tempura which extracts the taste of food, in ‘momiji tempura’ the leaf has no taste and lends only the shape to the final product. Taste depends on the dough and differs depending on a place, but basically is similar to many crispy snacks that go well with a drink.”

Quartz did their own experiment with frying up some momiji-style maple leaves in NYC. They said theirs tasted “like fried dough, or funnel cake, albeit with an odd, thin crispy layer at the center.” The Quartz staff has included the recipe they used, so you can definitely try to make your own at home if the sheer seasonality moves you.


Photo: Mino Park

That leaves (har har) only one legitimate question: why isn’t this the official snack of the Toronto Maple Leafs? Pair with a Molson at Air Canada Centre and you’re good.

[via Quartz]

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