The coming of the spring season means that our seasonal leafy green vegetables are finally back in stock, and one of those is Mizuna! Mizuna (Brassica rapa var. niposinica) is a cruciferous vegetable in the same family as cabbage, kale, arugula, bok choy, and radishes. The leaves are somewhat long, growing to a height of 16 to 18 inches, and dark, glossy green with spiky serrated edges. While it is a hardy vegetable, highly adaptable and capable of growing in many climates, mizuna is most popular in Japan, where it was valued in the Kyoto area as an heirloom green. Historically, mizuna was cultivated around the Mibu-Dera temple in southern Kyoto, where natural springs provided the wet soil the plants needed to thrive.It is high in vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and iron, and is a decent source of B-complex vitamins and essential minerals calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc, and selenium, making it a healthy addition to any meal.
Eaten raw, it has a nice, crisp texture and a slightly spicy flavor similar to, but not as strong as mustard greens or arugula. The texture and flavor of mizuna lends it very well to usage as a companion vegetable in dishes such as salads, pastas, and soups. Mizuna’s tangy flavor pairs surprisingly well with cheese, making it a perfect accompaniment for Italian-inspired meals. In Japan, it is traditionally eaten pickled as an appetizer, stir-fried and topped over rice, or as one of the many vegetables added to Japanese hot-pot soup (called nabe). Mizuna leaves shrink a great deal when cooked, so it is usually a good idea to add a sizable volume of them to any recipe where heat is involved in the preparation. Additionally, mizuna’s attractive leaf shape and color make them a suitable garnish for just about any dish.