I won’t forget when I saw this leafy and crunchy winter vegetable for the first time at Union Square Farmer’s Market in New York. Mizina is a Japanese vegetable, and I didn’t expect to see it in New York.
But since then, I’ve seen mizuna from time to time, and learned that it was one of the popular salad leaves among health conscious urbanites. My CSA also distributes mizuna in October.
My family called this kyona. I associate this vegetable with my father, because he liked it pickled very lightly. Pickling was my grandma’s job in our family, and I sometimes helped her. She bought bunches of Mizuna in winter.
I remembered that washing them in cold tap water made my hands numb. Then the they were packed in a wood barrel with salt and pieces of kombu. At the end, a wooden lid smaller than the barrel itself was dropped right on the veggies, and a huge heavy stone were placed on top of it. That was it. We were able to eat the pickles from the next day.
There is no mistake that the mizuna I received from CSA and kyona I ate in Japan are the same vegetable, but the mizuna from CSA seemed to be more delicate and suitable for salad rather than being pickled or cooked.
When I looked at the Japanese wiki, I learned that mizuna in the Western part of Japan is softer than the ones from Eastern part of Japan. As I grew up in the East, I had been eating tougher variety.
Mizuna is very versatile. It’s good to eat as salad, sauteed with chicken or pork, or as part of a hotpot.