What Japanese edible grasses do you know? Mizuna probably. It has an adventurous name – spider mustard. And maybe komatsuna – Japanese spinach. But you probably don’t know the Japanese mitsuba shamrock, because Asian stores don’t sell it. And because they don’t sell, I’ve been growing mitsuba at home in the garden for years. It has a delicate taste, and when you enjoy its flavour in a well-made chawanmushi – warm egg pudding dish, your taste buds will tremble with bliss. Maybe you already met mitsuba when drinking our Miyabi misoshiru soup. The bright green leaves that you didn’t know what it is, they were mitsuba. Mitsuba is also suitable as a tasty decoration for unaju or oyakoju. Oyakuju (chicken baked with eggs) is sometimes made on the lunch menu, so next time I will tell chefs to add mitsuba also. Mitsuba is great to fine-tune udon soup with. Yes, mitsuba is definitely my grass favorite. If you try to plant it and seeds fit to your soil, it will grow next year too, as it is perenial plant. And when you pluck the newly grown leaves, the plant will branch off and you have more leaves.
Mitsuba tastes a bit like wild parsley, but there’s something extra in it. It is more elegant. It also smells more elegant. So please do not boil it. Just throw it into the warm soup before serving and it is enough. Thanks to mitsuba, you will add iron, riboflavin and vitamin E to your food. And also folic acid to make you think better. Ascorbic acid (C) is there also. Botanically, the mitsuba is Cryptotaenia japonica. It keeps having leaves since June through out summer and to autumn, and even though it blooms with its delicate white flowers, the leaves and stems are always tasty. Mitsuba has difficulty to withstand long-lasting frosts in winter so be careful. It doesn’t like too sunny a place and dry soil. And where to get seeds? In Japan. I think it’s worth getting to know the mitsuba at last.
Mitsuba.葉 つ 葉. Three and a leaf. I have never harvested a four-leaf mitsuba or a double-leaf mitsuba from my plants. Mitsuba just wants to live up to its name. If three, then three. Our clover is called a clover and the word has nothing to do with the number of the leaves. In any case, it has gained our attention by sometimes producing a four-leaf clover, and we declare that uniqueness a symbol of good luck. It also produces a double-leaf clover, and if you find it, you can guarantee that you will have a great partner. There must be something extraordinary about the Japanese three-leaf, as the word is, because many owners of Japanese restaurants name their places Mitsuba , and Mitsuba is also the name of a well-known comic book character. The character Mitsuba is not as fresh green as mitsuba plant is, but it is pink, and interestignly it’s neither a girl nor a boy. Pink has not only clothes, but also hair and eyes. And has slim long body. Incarnate to Hanako-kun. “Kun” is added after a boy’s name emphasizing it is a boy, and Hanako is typical girl’s name. I don’t know how to get along with mitsuba plant and Mitsuba what becomes a ghost. There are many coherent words in Japanese, much more than in our language, so I tell myself that there is no connection between mitsuba and Mitsuba, although I must admit that Mitsuba Sousuke (Mitsuba is the surname) that is the name of the teen from the comic “Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun” has exactly the same characters. 三葉. Three leaves.
I hope I succeeded with my crazy comparission of mitsuba and Mitsuba Hanako-kun to help you to remember my favorite mitsuba grass and look for it. Sometimes we will put it in your soup.
I wish you good luck, great partnership and elegantly intact taste!