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Mizuna A Blessing For Salads



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Mizuna A Blessing For Salads

By Nancy K. Crevier

“The salad consists of dried cherries, goat cheese, and — mizuna,” said our waiter. “Bless you,” I responded. But he hadn’t sneezed.

Mizuna is a zesty Asian green that is cropping up frequently on menus, and in home gardens. Easy to grow, the feathery green is resilient in hot weather and tolerates the chilly days of early autumn, too.

According to the label on Park Seed Mizuna, the Japanese mustard green is a cool season crop, meaning that come August, there will be a window of opportunity in which to start a crop or extend the growing season of mizuna planted earlier this season.

“The lacy-leaved plants are lovely as ornamentation as well as nutrition, bearing thin white stalks topped with rosettes of thick, deeply-cut green leaves,” states information from Park Seed — but it would be a shame to not use the mildly spicy leaves, whether in salads, soups, or stir-fry meals. Mizuna is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, calcium, iron, and fiber.

Mizuna will grow up to a foot tall, but the baby greens can be harvested with a sharp pair of scissors as soon as they reach 3 to 4 inches. The young leaves are perfect for sandwiches (along with fresh goat cheese or mozzarella, a little mustard, and summer tomatoes) or salads. Use the mizuna leaves straight, dressed with a sweet, fruity salad dressing, or mix them up with other mild summer greens.

The larger, mature leaves of the mizuna plant are ideal for stir-fry or for use in soups. Trim the root end, rinse well, and add at the end of the cooking time, as mizuna cooks quite rapidly. Like so many tender greens, a large bundle of mizuna cooks down into a miniscule quantity, so plan on about 1 pound of mizuna greens for each half-cup of cooked greens you need.

If you are not fortunate enough to have a plot of land on which to grow your own mizuna crop, this is one green that fairs well as a potted plant on the patio when grown in a rich mix and watered frequently. If you have no green thumb at all, ask at the local farmers’ market, where surely someone will have a bunch of the Asian greens to sell. Select mizuna with deep green, shiny leaves. If not for immediate use, rinse the mizuna leaves and place in a punctured plastic bag, or an open plastic bag, in the refrigerator. Use within three to five days.

And if someone says “Mizuna,” just say, “Thank  you. I’d love some.”

Wok-Sautéed Mizuna with Minced Chicken

(from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook)

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

½ tsp tamari soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, minced

2 tsp canola or peanut oil

1/3  C minced carrot

1/3  C minced onion

¼ C minced water chestnuts

1 tsp tamari soy sauce

½ tsp chili paste with garlic (or Thai chile paste)

1 Tbs lime juice

1 pound mizuna, ends trimmed

¼ C minced scallions for garnish

In medium bowl, mix egg white with tamari, garlic, and minced chicken. Mix well to coat the chicken evenly. Marinate, refrigerated, for one hour.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a wok or sauté pan over high heat. Sauté chicken for about 4 to 6 minutes, stirring constantly until the chicken is cooked through and appears opaque. Remove chicken from pan and reserve. Add the remaining teaspoon oil and sauté the carrot, onion, and water chestnuts for one minute, stirring constantly. Add tamari, chili paste, lime juice, and mizuna leaves. Cook just until mizuna has wilted slightly.

Return chicken to pan and mix well. Garnish with scallions.

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