Also known as tendergreen or Japanese mustard spinach, this Chinese cabbage varietal is named for the Japanese village of Komatsugawa, where it was heavily grown during Japan’s Edo Period. With a fresh taste said to be sweeter than spinach and incredibly high nutrition content, it is a natural addition to any vegetable dish.
Komatsuna was named by a shogun who visited the Katori Shrine in Komatsugawa. The shrine priest served him soup made with a local leaf vegetable, which the shogun liked so much that he named it for the village. In recognition of this honor, the Katori Shrine still offers komatsuna to deities, and people who come to the shrine to pray on New Year’s Day are given komatsuna leaves for good luck in the new year.
Komatsuna has a high concentration of vitamin C as well as vitamins A, B2, and K. Like other brassicas, komatsuna is also full of cancer-fighting compounds known as glucosinolates.
Wrap komatsuna loosely in a paper towel and store in a plastic bag for up to 7 days in the refrigerator.
The fresh, sweet taste and firm, crunchy texture of komatsuna make it popular in a variety of preparations. Along with being eaten raw or fermented, it holds up well to boiling, stir-frying, and simmering in soups.
Roughly chop komatsuna leaves and add to a hot skillet with grapeseed oil and soy. Once leaves are wilted, toss with roasted Hakurei turnips, sauteed shiitake mushrooms, and toasted sesame seeds.
Some say that komatsuna gets even sweeter after being frozen. To freeze, first, wash and dry the leaves, then cut into a uniform size and pack tightly into a plastic bag. Squeeze out all the air, then seal and put into the freezer. Frozen komatsuna can be cooked straight out of the freezer—no need to defrost first.