Komatsuna is a leaf vegetable coming from and popular in Japan. It’s a similar species to those that yield yields the turnip, mizuna, napa cabbage, and rapini. It’s mostly commercially grown in Japan and Taiwan but there are also American productions mostly where there’s an Asian minority looking for it.
The leafs of the plant can be eaten at any stage which means that it’s up to farmer to decide when the plant will be harvested. However, it’s different to use at any stage which is something you should also take into account.
- The name ‘komatsuna’ means ‘greens of Komatsu’ in Japanese, a reference to the village of Komatsugawa in Edogawa near Tokyo, where it was heavily grown during the Edo period.
- It was long used in Japan as addition to bread
- It need nitrogen in soil to grow
Komatsuna Buying Guide
It’s not always an easy vegetable to find. You’ll probably be able to buy it in high end farmers market and at some high end grocery shops. They are also sold on farms but mostly in areas with a large Japanese minority.
When choosing komatsuna you should look for the quality of the leafs first and foremost. They should be green and appear to be fresh and healthy with unmarred stems.
Komatsuna Production & Farming in Texas
Komatsuna is mostly grown in Japan and there are only a few places in Texas where it’s grown commercially, with just a few more in California. Texas is however a perfect place to grow this plant because it requires a dry soil and a lot of sunlight.
The seeds should be started early and indoors, but if the weather is hot throughout the year you could grow them directly into the soil. It’s best to do the former if you’re worried about the risks that might come with the frost.
The soil will need to be amended with compost. That’s because you’ll need to add nitrogen to the soil in order to make it useable. This will be your most important and the largest expense you have as a farmer who works on Komatsuna production.
It’s also important the plants are pruned and that they are fertilized at all times. You’ll also need to take care of the irrigation especially during the harsh summers of the southern US, and southern Texas in particular.
There’s no harvest season since the plant can be grown at all times, and you can cut the plant at any point and it will be useable in one way or another, you should make these plants according to your needs.
Concentrations of many pesticides in Komatsuna shoots showed higher positive correlation with water-extractable than with total-extractable soil concentrations
There’s a precise time in history when this plant was named but it’s used way before that. It was named by Tokugawa Yoshimune, the eighth shogun, who visited Edogawa in 1719 for hunting and stopped at the local Katori Shrine for lunch. There he was served the plant in a soup.
It was then moved where ever Japan has a cultural influence and therefore a culinary influence as well. There are a few places in the US where Japanese have a large minority. California is the largest of these and that’s where most Komatsuna is made and sold.
Komatsuna is most similar to spinach in its appearance and it’s how it’s being transported and moved. This is mostly done in open cardboard or plastic boxes that are easily stackable and that you can load to trucks or move in different kinds of vehicles.
They are kept in stores and the farmers market usually as they are but they are sometimes held in bundles and tied with an ordinary string. Sometimes they are sprinkled with water in order to be fresh for a longer time.
Komatsuna is a staple of Japanese and Taiwanese cuisine where it’s used in a variety of different ways. There, it’s boiled, added to soups and salads, and pickled. That’s mostly because it can be used at any stage of growth and when it’s fully matured in spring, it’s mostly at its full qualities.
The preparation process is the same as it would be for spinach. What you need to do is to wash the plant and slice it with a sharp knife and remove the stems before you slice the rest of Komatsuna depending on how you plan to use it.
Wash the Komatsuna and make sure you’ve removed all the water and wiped it with care so that there’s no moisture. That will allow you to store it for a longer time before it starts to rot. Cut the Komatsuna to size based on how you plan to use it and what kind of storage you have available.
You should place the Komatsuna in plastic bags with no water and keep it in the cold parts of the freezer.
There many ways to prepare Komatsuna and here’s a recipe that’s simple and suited to both Japanese and western cuisine.
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.
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.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) 195 mg (216.67%) Vitamin A, RAE 742 µg (106.00%) Vitamin B9 (Folate) 238 µg (59.50%) Calcium, Ca 315 mg (31.50%) Iron, Fe 2.25 mg (28.13%) Manganese, Mn 0.61 mg (26.52%) Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) 0.229 mg (17.62%) Potassium, K 674 mg (14.34%) Copper, Cu 0.113 mg (12.56%) Total dietary Fiber 4.2 g (11.05%)
When Are Komatsuna in Season in Texas?
To find out when Komatsuna are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.