What is Mizuna?

Many people like mizuna in their salads.

Mizuna is a dark green leafy vegetable that appears to be native to China, although it is also widely grown in Japan. This plant is in the mustard family and can be used raw in things like salads or cooked in soups and fries. Some markets may have mizuna, especially during the winter months when produce is scarce, and it can also be grown at home if you have a small planting box or garden.

Mizuna can be added to a main course salad that contains other fresh greens and grilled chicken breast.

The name of this green leaf comes from the Japanese mizu, which means “water”, and nu, which means “mustard plant”. This green salad is also known as Japanese mustard, kyona, potherb mustard or xiu cai, depending on which region of the world you travel to. Mizuna has a mild, almost sweet flavor with a slight hint of mustard. When fresh and in good condition, the plant is crunchy, with a bright and clear flavor and a touch of crunchiness, giving texture and flavor to the dishes in which it is integrated.

Mizuna grows in the form of rosettes of long, downy leaves that are dark green and very shiny. The leaves have shiny white stems; the green and white combination reminds some people of bok choy, a related green. Many people like to use mizuna in salads or as a garnish for other dishes, but it can also be chopped and added to soups, fries, and noodles. Mizuna is very nutritious, like other Brassica relatives, which makes it a good addition to the diet.

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This plant is extremely cold tolerant, which makes it popular with gardeners in cold regions. It is also good to eat in winter when vegetables are sometimes hard to find and some people feel like eating vegetables due to the tendency to eat a lot of fats and starches in winter when other foods are scarce. The versatility of mizuna is also appreciated by some cooks.

If you choose mizuna at the store, look for crispy curls with no signs of discoloration or goo. Keep the mizuna wrapped in the vegetable drawer for three to four days before using, and remember to wash it before using it. If you want to grow mizuna at home, sow seeds in a reasonably warm, secluded part of the garden and keep them well watered and diluted to encourage healthy, even growth. Harvest the mizuna as needed, and if you want to plant it next year, let a few plants germinate.

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