Ingredients, dishes and drinks from Japan by Ad Blankestijn

Friday, September 30, 2011


Potherb mustard. (Brassica rapa var. nipposinica). みずな、水菜.

Lit. "water greens." The vegetable got its name because it is grown in fields that are shallowly flooded with water. Mizuna is a delicate plant from the mustard family with slender spear-shaped leaves. It grows in clumps and is characterized by a mildly spicy flavor. It is crisp and piquant. 

Mibuna is typically used in stir fries and one-pot dishes (nabemono), but can also be enjoyed raw in salads.  In Kyoto it is a also a popular vegetable for pickling, as it has a firm texture despite its tender appearance. 

Mizuna is one of the few vegetables that is indigenous to Japan.

[Mizuna. Photo from Wikipedia]

As mizuna has for many centuries been cultivated in and around Kyoto, it is especially associated with that city and also called Kyona ("Kyoto greens"). A closely related variety is Mibuna ("Mibu greens"), which belongs to the branded "traditional vegetables from Kyoto." Mibuna (壬生菜) is named after the Mibu Temple in central-western Kyoto. This variety has broader leaves and its scientific name is Brassica campestris var. lanciniifolia.

[Kyo Mibuna. Photo Ad Blankestijn]