"Learn About..." is a recurring post where we'll look at lesser known herbs, greens, etc., and discuss their origin, health benefits, and everything in between!
Komatsuna (Brassica rapa var. perviridis) is deliciously spicy green that's often referred to as Japanese mustard spinach. Popular in (you guessed it) the Japanese region, komatsuna isn't actually related to spinach, but a member of the brassica family, sharing similar properties to cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage.
Komatsuna is also popular in other Asian regions, and is grown almost exclusively in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. It's known to have been grown during the Edo period in Japan. Its name comes from the region in Japan in which it's grown: the Komatsugawa district of Japan.
Known for its impressive nutritional properties, komatsuna is chock full of vitamin C, calcium, and beta carotene. Like the other members of the brassica family, komatsuna has a compound called sulforaphane that helps our bodies fight cancer. Sulforaphane actively kill cancer stem cells, slowing a tumor's growth. For more on sulforaphane, check out our article on broccoli and why you should eat more of it.
Komatsuna leaves are tender and rich in flavor, and its mustard-like flavor is why it's called Japanese mustard spinach. Similar to other greens, komatsuna can be consumed at any stage, and is often used in salads but its more mature counterpart can also withstand higher temperatures like in stir-fries.
In its microgreen form, komatsuna is sweet and delicate. When matured, its leaves are much more fibrous and develop a deeper green hue. The flavor also intensifies and its mustard notes become much more prominent.
Unsure how you should incorporate more komatsuna into your diet? Check out these two delectable recipes below!
Spinach and Komatsuna with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice
1 cup black or brown rice (or a mix)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups spinach, chopped
2 cups komatsuna Japanese mustard greens or baby mustard greens, chopped
1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted over dry heat
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook rice according to package instructions. (For brown rice, this means 2 parts water, 1 part rice. Place in a pan, cover, and bring to a bowl. Then simmer for 45 minutes, or until rice is tender.)
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic, and saute until onions are nearly translucent. Stir in mushrooms, and cook another 3-5 minutes, until mushrooms get a nice sear.
Stir in greens, and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, until greens are tender, 3-4 minutes. Squeeze lemon on top, and adjust salt and pepper, if needed.
Divide rice between bowls, and top with greens. Scatter almonds across each bowl. Serve.
Komatsuna and Scrambled Egg Stir-Fry
200 g Komatsuna
1 tbsp Vegetable oil
Heat up a frying pan and mix the two eggs in a bowl, then add to the pan with a pinch of salt and scramble. Cook until the eggs are crumbly, then set aside.
In the same pan, heat up the vegetable oil and add the komatsuna with a pinch of salt. Stir-fry for a few minutes until wilted.
Add the scrambled eggs and gently mix. Turn off the heat, add a handful of katsuobushi and mix.
Komatsuna is one of the many microgreens you can grow in an Urban Cultivator, and it only takes about two weeks before you can harvest them in their microgreen version. If you let it grow a little longer, it will grow into its mature version.
Want to grow your own? Grab komatsuna seeds from the Urban Cultivator store here.
What's your favorite way to use komatsuna? Have you used them before? Let us know in the comments section!