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Let’s Talk Food: Mizuna, Japanese mustard green


After Christmas and during New Year’s, many stores around the island sold mizuna in abundance. Gardeners also planted them in December in time for the new year as they are one of the easiest to grow.

All you need is a bed or pot of potting soil, scatter seeds and in a few days, you will have sprouting mizuna. It is similar to growing arugula. It makes you think you have a green thumb when in actuality, mizuna and arugula are vigorous growers, almost like weeds!

So, if you are insecure about your growing skills, start with either or both of those seeds.

If you are a newcomer to the islands, you probably wondered what you could do with it.

Most bunches are added to New Year’s Day mochi soup, “ozoni,” Any leftover mizuna is pickled in salt as “tsukemono.” So, get yourself invited to a local family’s home next year for New Year’s so you can experience all the customs still practiced to ensure a good new year!

Mizuna, the cultivated variety of Brassica rapa hippsinica has many names:

• shui cai

• kyona

• Japanese mustard

• potherb mustard

• Japanese greens

• California peppergrass

• spider mustard

• or water greens.

Like most mustard greens, mizuna is high in folic acid, vitamins A and C and contains glucosinolates, an antioxidant which has been linked to a decrease in cancer risk in studies.

Many mesclun seed packets include mizuna, particularly the ones labeled spicy mesclun blends.

I have planted them and found mizuna is very dominant, coming up first and lasting the longest.

If you still have mizuna in your vegetable bin or garden, try this healthy stir-fry dish with tofu from Bon Appetit.

Stir-Fried Bok Choy and Mizuna with Tofu

Serves 4

In a bowl, whisk together:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar

One 14 to 16 ounce extra-firm tofu, drained

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (Peanut oil is preferred for wok cooking because it has a high smoke point, but what if you serve this to someone with peanut allergy? Just in case, you could use vegetable oil)

Stack two paper towels on work surface. Cut crosswise into 3/4-inch thick slices, then cut each slice crosswise in half.

Arrange tofu on paper towels and let stand 10 minutes. Pat top of tofu dry.

Heat in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add tofu and cook, without moving, until golden brown on bottom, two to three minutes per side (you will have to move it to turn it). Transfer tofu to paper towel to drain, then place tofu on sheet of foil and brush both sides with soy/vinegar mixture.

Wipe out any oil from skillet.

Add:

2 teaspoons sesame oil

Heat to medium heat. Add:

4 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add:

1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Add:

4 baby bok choy, leaves separated

Toss till bok choy wilts, one to two minutes.

Add in two batches:

12 cups loosely packed mizuna (about 8 ounces)

Toss to wilt before adding more, one to two minutes per batch. Season greens with salt and pepper to taste. Add tofu to skillet. Toss gently to blend. Transfer to platter. Serve with brown rice.

Please convince your husband tofu is your protein source so is a complete meal and meat is not needed.

Mizuna is great stir-fried, so if your favorite recipe calls for spinach, mustard greens or kale, you can substitute with mizuna. However, because it cooks quickly, unlike kale, add the mizuna just before finishing your dish, toss and cook for about one minute more.

Wok Stir-Fried Mizuna and Minced Chicken

Serves 4

In a medium bowl, mix together:

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, very finely chopped or ground chicken

Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Heat in a wok over high heat:

1 teaspoon peanut, vegetable or canola oil

Add chicken and cook until chicken is cooked and turns white. Transfer chicken to a place and set aside. Heat in same wok:

1 teaspoon oil

Add and cook, stirring constantly for one minute:

1/3 cup finely chopped carrots

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped water chestnuts

Add and cook, stirring often, until mizuna is slightly wilted:

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon chile paste with garlic

1 tablespoon lime juice

Return minced chicken to wok and toss well. Garnish with:

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

Foodie bites

Hawaii Community College’s cafeteria is now open for business Tuesday through Friday. Call the cafeteria at 934-2559 for a menu. The Bamboo Hale will serve its first meal Jan. 28. I will let you know what country or region will be featured as soon as I find out.

Please feel free to email me at wilson.audrey@hawaiiantel.net if you have a question. Bon appetit until next week.

 

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