Have you been at the farmers’ market or opening your CSA box and said ‘Mizuna? What is mizuna?’ Well then you’re in luck because I have put together this ingredient spotlight to answer all your questions and give you some ideas on how to use mizuna.
Recently I was at the farmers’ market visiting the various vendor stalls and came across a table with several bundles of leaves along one side. And I had no idea what it was or how to use it. This made me very happy since I love to find ‘new to me’ fruits and vegetables.
So I asked the farmers about it. They told me it was mizuna and let me try a leaf to see how it tasted. I was immediately hooked!
I bought a couple of bunches, made some recipes, and looked up all the info I could find. Which I shall now share with you in this ingredient spotlight. And I hope it will answer the questions: what is mizuna? and what do I do with mizuna?
What is Mizuna?
Mizuna is a member of the Brassica family of plants. What is the Brassica family? You might know them better as mustard greens, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts), turnips, kohlrabi, and kale. Yes, a very large portion of the vegetables we eat are all related.
Specifically, mizuna is a type of mustard green found in Japan. It is often used in Asian cooking and has been making its way into American cuisine where it is found in baby lettuce mixes (as a little spicy factor) and in big bunches at farmers’ markets.
Mizuna has dark green, serrated, feathered leaves and looks rather delicate even when allowed to grow into larger leaves.
Fun fact: Mizuna was grown on the International Space Station in the Lada Greenhouse on the station to test some of the variabilities of growing greens in space.
Where does Mizuna Come From?
Mizuna is widely cultivated in Japan and has been for at least 200-300 years. It may have first been cultivated in China, though I can’t find any authoritative citations for that. (Or maybe it’s Indian in origin!)
It was traditionally grown in Kyoto, and is sometimes called kyona. In Kyoto it is still grown in wet fields as a fall/winter crop.
Either way, it is often used in Japanese cooking, where it is pickled, used in Japanese hot pots, stir fried, and put in soups.
What does mizuna taste like?
Mizuna tastes like a cross between mustard greens and arugula. It is mildly spicy with a peppery bite.
You have probably had it raw as a baby green in lettuce mixes, where it looks like a more feathery arugula. As a mature green, though you could chop it up and have it in a salad, it is usually cooked to add a little bite to whatever you’re making.
Is Mizuna good for you?
Yes! As with all of the Brassica family, mizuna is packed full of nutrients while contributing very few calories to your diet.
- Mizuna is full of vitamins, such as A, C, and K, along with beta carotene. Vitamin K is especially helpful in improving bone health and blood clotting.
- Mizuna contains antioxidants, especially kaempferol, which helps with chronic inflammation, protecting healthy cells, and may help reduce the spread of cancers.
- The antioxidants also helps support a healthy immune system.
- Mizuna also improves eye health through its supply of vitamin A and lutein.
For more information on the health benefits of mizuna, check out Top 6 Benefits of This Super Green.
Note: If you suffer from oxalate kidney stones, mizuna, like the rest of its relatives, does contain high amounts of oxalates, so enjoy it in moderation.
What are some great recipes for mizuna?
Mizuna is great in any recipes which call for greens. Use it in place of kale or spinach in soups, sautes, and salads. Also, since it’s a traditional Japanese green, it pairs well with Asian flavors and is great as salt pickles or in stir fries and hot pots.
Here are a few mizuna recipes for you try:
- Overnight Salt (Soaking) Pickles
- Mizuna Quinoa Salad with Lemon Scallion Vinaigrette
- Stir-Fried Bok Choy and Mizuna with Tofu
- Mizuna with a Sweet Vinaigrette
- Orecchiette with Mizuna Pesto
And here is my recipe for mizuna (more to come in the future!):