Crisp, bright, and refreshing, this Mizuna Myoga Salad brings new flavor and texture to the dinner table! The homemade sesame ponzu dressing ties everything together. It’s so lovely that I could eat this all season long.
Vegetables are a big part of a Japanese meal. They are always included in the main dish, or if not, as tasty little side dishes to round up the meal. We also eat a lot of salad that requires minimal effort, and that’s including homemade dressing too.
Today I’m going to share a truly special salad – Mizuna Myoga Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing (水菜とミョウガのサラダ).
Why You’ll Love Mizuna Myoga Salad
I know, the unfamiliar Japanese name (again), but Mizuna is definitely getting more popular over the years and I see it. When we traveled to Salt Lake City in Utah, last year, I saw Mizuna in the restaurant salad menu, without any translation! It was not something that is known to the American public, but the restaurant owner just threw the unfamiliar greens into the salad anyway. I loved that he has such confidence to introduce something new and foreign to his clientele.
Truth to be told, Mizuna is not hard to love at all. This Japanese mustard green is often being compared to arugula. The difference is arugula has a slight peppery bite that my kids are not favoring while mizuna leans toward “mustardy” bite. The flavor is mellow but extremely flavorful. Our family especially loves the crisp stems of the mizuna!
When paired with myoga ginger and shiso leaves, this salad is more than just an ordinary salad. The easy-to-put-together homemade dressing is also stellar on its own.
What You’ll Need for Mizuna Myoga Salad
The characteristics of this leafy vegetable are the crisp yet tender stem and mild-flavored leaves. It can be eaten raw as in a salad or in a hot pot or soup dishes. Since the texture of this vegetable is enjoyable, I like to eat it as a salad.
Where to Buy and Substitution: The Japanese grocery stores always have it all year round. This vegetable is getting popular so you may be surprised to find it at your local farmers’ market or CSA box. Reese, one of the JOC team members, also grew mizuna in her garden in Minnesota and she said it’s easy to grow from the seeds. You can buy the seeds from Kitazawa Seed Company or Home Depot.
Substitution: If you can’t find it, use your favorite salad greens like arugula, pea shoots, or spring mix.
2. Myoga (Japanese Ginger)
This year I received a lot of requests from readers all over the world for myoga recipes. Some readers receive the wonderful ginger as a gift or they grow their own. Lucky you! It’s one of those unique ingredients in Japanese cuisine but hard to find outside of Japan.
Where to Buy: In the US, you can find myoga from Japanese grocery stores like Mitsuwa or Nijiya or Tokyo Central (in the refrigerator section when it’s in season or in the freezer when out of the season). Or if you are looking to add another edible plant to your growing garden, check out this seller on Etsy.
Substitution: You can use ginger (preferably less spicy young ginger). Julienne 2 thin slices of peeled ginger and soak in water to get rid of spicy taste. Or you can simply omit it altogether and toss in another salad ingredient (s) of your choice.
3. Shiso (Perilla)
One of my beloved Japanese herbs is Shiso. I love the flavor of shiso so much that I would use it for many, many recipes. This summer, I bought several pots of shiso from a Japanese market (Nijiya) and am hoping I’ll get an endless supply of shiso!
Where to Buy: The Japanese grocery stores always have it all year round. You can also get similar herb Perilla at the Korean grocery stores. These two look similar (Korean Perilla leaves are larger and thicker), but taste slightly different. Some JOC readers grow their own shiso using seeds from the Japanese seeding company Kitazawa Seed Co. They said shiso grows like a weed!
Substitution: Use mint, basil, anything you have or omit it altogether. Add in more flavorful and colorful salad ingredients would make it more special.
How to Make Sesame Ponzu Dressing
Once you start cooking more Japanese food, you will notice the frequent use of these ingredients: soy sauce, ponzu, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. They are the staple condiments to stock in the pantry if you haven’t done so.
For a basic dressing, you need vinegar and oil; so I use ponzu (citrus soy sauce) for the vinegar and sesame oil for the oil. Feel free to adjust, but I like mine to be 3 parts ponzu to 1 part sesame oil.
I sometimes go a little heavy with the soy sauce (like this recipe) to give it more pronounced umami. Or ginger to give zing. Or yuzu kosho for a spicy kick. Again, you’re at the liberty to change things up.
I love the combination of ponzu (citrus soy sauce) and toasted sesame oil and I made slightly different variations:
- Tofu Salad with Sesame Ponzu Dressing
- Eggplant with Sesame Ponzu Sauce
- Pork Spring Roll with Sesame Ponzu Dressing
What to Serve Mizuna Myoga Salad
This salad is perfectly suited for any Asian main dishes, but here are some of my recommendations:
- Miso Chicken
- Japanese Croquettes
- Vegetable Gyoza (vegan)
- Chicken Karaage with Sweet Chili Sauce
- Salmon in Foil
- Soy-Glazed Eggplant Donburi (vegan)
It’s one of those salads that leaves a lasting impression. Once you make it, you can’t stop thinking about.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Mizuna Myoga Salad
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Cut Ingredients
- Discard the stem of the shiso and roll it up from the bottom (stem side) to tip. Cut it into julienned strips.
- Discard the tough stem of the myoga and diagonally cut into thin slices.
- Discard the bottom ends and cut the mizuna into 1.5 inches (4 cm).
To Make the Dressing
- Grind the toasted sesame seeds with a mortar and pestle. Leave some sesame seeds unground for texture.
- In a small mason jar or bowl, combine ponzu, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
- Add the ground sesame seeds and mix everything together.
- In a large salad bowl, put mizuna, shiso, and myoga. Sprinkle sesame seeds, if you like. Shake the dressing, drizzle over the salad, and mix well before eating.