The exotic oriental salads: let’s discover the salads of the Far East


The exotic oriental salads: let’s discover the salads of the Far East

Mizuna, tatsoi, mustard red are just some of the many varieties of oriental leafy vegetables. Coming from the Far East, they mostly belong to the cruciferous family. Versatile in the kitchen and extremely nutritious, they are increasingly popular in our country as well. Discover with the article the curiosities about oriental salads and the main varieties.

Oriental salads: curiosities and best known varieties

When we talk about oriental salad we refer to leafy vegetables, originating from the Far East. Although their origin and names may suggest exotic and difficult to grow plants, in reality they are very similar to the vegetables we know and use commonly. What is different is the flavor, which is often hotter or spicier. Most oriental salads are part of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes cabbage or broccoli, and can be sown in both spring and summer or autumn. There are many varieties of oriental salads, as well as their taste, from the sweeter ones to the spiciest ones, from the more delicate ones to the more intense ones. Precisely this richness makes them extremely versatile in the kitchen, where mainly leaves are used, to be enjoyed both raw and cooked in a pan. Let’s discover the best known varieties, among those also grown by Altamura OP, and their peculiarities.

Mizuna: the oriental rocket with a spicy flavor

Mizuna, also known as Japanese mustard, is the best known variety of oriental salad: a rosette with jagged leaves and a spicy flavor, very close to our rocket. It is a leafy vegetable that is very easy to grow, with fast growth and excellent resistance to cold. Tasty and versatile in the kitchen, Mizuna is also a vegetable that is good for health: it is rich in vitamins A and C, which help the immune system, but also in folic acid and sodium, as well as known for its anti-oxidant properties.

Although it is a very tasty and versatile salad, some of its characteristics should be kept in mind for excellent results both in a fresh mixed salad and as a side dish for a meat or fish dish. First of all, it is a very delicate leafy vegetable, which needs to be washed carefully, without squeezing it too much so as not to risk damaging it. Its flavor is linked to its cultivation: the younger leaves, in fact, are very tender, with a spicy and fresh flavor, and are perfect to be tasted raw. The more adult leaves of Mizuna, on the other hand, tend to become more bitter, and therefore are not recommended for use in salads. However, it is possible to cook them in a pan to make them lose this strong aroma and create a tasty side dish.

Mizuna salad with apples: all the freshness and lightness of Japanese mustard

The recipe that we propose is ideal for preserving the beneficial properties of this oriental salad, which could otherwise be lost with cooking. You will only need young leaves of Mizuna, an apple and some dried fruit, such as walnuts or almonds. Gently wash the Mizuna, and remove the white part of the stem, the part that retains the most bitter taste. Place the salad leaves in a bowl and insert the sliced ​​apple and dried fruit. You can flavor this fresh salad with a tasty vinaigrette made from oil, vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper.

Tatsoi: a tasty oriental salad that is also beautiful to look at

Tatsoi is a very resistant and productive oriental leaf vegetable. Next to our cabbage, unlike the Mizuna, it has a much more delicate and sweet taste. Its dark, round leaves, which grow in a rosette, are reminiscent of a flower and make this oriental salad also very beautiful to look at and to grow as an ornamental plant. Tatsoi is an incredibly hardy plant, and can also be grown in winter with temperatures as low as -10 ° C. These delicate leaves have very few calories, but are rich in fiber which is excellent for intestinal health. Furthermore, they are a source of vitamin C, carotenoids, folic acid and minerals, such as calcium and potassium. Tatsoi is widely used in oriental cuisine, thanks to its creamy texture and smooth flavor. When the leaves are fresh, they can be eaten raw, added to the salad. However, we recommend that you enjoy it cooked, sautéed, to flavor pasta or soups, or in preparations that usually require spinach.

Ham and Tatsoi rolls: a delicious and easy to prepare second course

To make this simple and tasty recipe, start by washing and cutting the Tatsoi leaves. Cook them together with a drop of milk, cream and two tablespoons of flour, in a pan in which you have previously melted some butter. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally to avoid lumps. Add i a pinch of nutmeg and remove from heat. Before filling the cooked ham slices, let them cool.

Mustard red: the “red giant” with an aromatic taste

Brassica juncea red giant is a variety of oriental salad also known as red mustard or red giant mustard, also belonging to the Brassicaceae family. It is an edible aromatic plant of Chinese origin and widely cultivated in Japan. This variety is characterized by oval, fleshy and wide leaves and a particular purplish color. Its flavor is strong, similar to mustard and therefore widely used in cooking. The leaves of the mustard red are rich in nutrients: a source of vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium, potassium and many fibers. It is interesting to know that they are also used by the cosmetic industries to extract essential oil and make numerous products. Like the other varieties, this oriental salad is also very versatile in the kitchen: used both raw for mixed salads, sautéed, steamed or boiled, to dress pasta or accompany meats, cheeses and eggs.

Mustard red stir-fried with eggs: an irresistible combination

The particular flavor of the “red giant”, strong and spicy, makes it very versatile in the kitchen and easy to combine with numerous ingredients. We suggest a very tasty second to prepare with this oriental salad and an egg. First, wash the mustard red leaves and remove the final part of the stem, which is particularly thick and hard. In a pan, heat a little oil and leave to flavor with some garlic, add the oriental salad leaves and cook. When they are almost ready, make a hole in the center by squeezing the leaves with a spoon and pour in the egg. Continue cooking over low heat, covering with a lid, until the white is cooked and the red is still soft. All you have to do is savor this simple but irresistible dish.

The varieties of oriental salad are many and different from each other. Although they recall some vegetables commonly used in our country, their taste is often stronger. Also available in Italy, now that you know all the main characteristics and varieties of these leafy vegetables, you just have to try your hand at some recipes and discover their overwhelming flavor.