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Foodstuff: Mizuna

Mizuna 01

Mizuna isn’t particularly widely used, or even known, outside Japanese cuisine (although it has thus far managed to attract enough attention in the West to acquire the English name ‘Japanese Mustard’). The most common variety, pictured above, is very similar to the common salad herb known as ‘Arugula’ (across most of North America) or ‘Rocket’ (in the UK)… The appearance is very similar and they both taste quite a bit alike except that the Mizuna is a milder and not quite as sharp. For those who are not familiar with Arugula, the taste of Mizuna is perhaps best described as being like a Bibb lettuce with a more peppery quality … 

Mizuna 02

It may not be possible to obtain Mizuna in your local supermarket yet but the plant is fairly easy to cultivate at home. The plants pictured above are the product of our own greenhouse and are the third or fourth crop my wife has grown in the past few years. So far, we have only grown it in the summer but Wikipedia informs us that the plant is well-suited to cool temperatures and grown extensively during the winter months in Japan.

Mizuna 03

One can certainly use Mizuna as one would Arugula – in salads, and the like – but, in Japan, it is just as commonly used in soups or simmered dishes. For hot dishes, or cooked dishes later served cold, one can briefly blanch Mizuna to help it keep its color and fresh taste. To do this, drop the leaves into boiling water for no more than about 10 or 20 seconds and then plunge into ice cold water to instantly stop any further cooking.

Mizuna 04

Once blanched, you will need to wring out excess water before using the leaves (or else saving them for later). As with spinach and other delicate greens, even a brief cooking reduces the bulk considerably and it takes a lot of the plants to make a substantial dish if they aren’t consumed raw. If you have a lot on hand and need to store some for any length of time, you can certainly prepare them as you see pictured above and then freeze.

Mizuna 05

Aside from the use in soups or simmered dishes already noted, the Japanese like to pickle Mizuna and one can also serve the leaves deep-fried Tempura style. They also make a nice garnishing herb and I find them great for a sandwich addition. The lunch shown above is a pastrami and turkey sandwich but Mizuna would, I fancy, go especially well with raw roast beef and mustard…

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Eha #

    Mizuna, mibuna ans tatsoi – to me the triad of delight!! Have grown them for at least a couple of decades: easy to do so and we in Australia only have them at specialist greengrocers also! Oh, tatsoi is now in most supermarket salad mixes. Our mizuna has a far smaller and finer leaf than most rocket, and, to me, a taste of greater finesse – but I have to admit I pick and eat them raw in salads only , or as you suggest say with a roast beef sandwich 🙂 !!

    September 13, 2014
  2. I’ve never heard of Mizuna but as a huge fan of arugula (who’d have guessed? :)) I bet I would love this!

    September 15, 2014

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