I made a Japanese feast for Sunday’s dinner. An ohitashi is basically a Japanese salad. A variety of green are parboiled, lightly dressed with a soy sauce based dressing and then served chilled. Using spinach seemed just too ordinary. I had planned to use komatsuna (Japanese mustard greens), but the greens at the store were yellowed and bug eaten. In the next bin was some fresh mizuna (also called Japanese mustard greens), so I decided to use that for my ohitashi.
After Dinner Note: I actually found only one recipe on the internet for using mizuna in an ohtashi. After dinner it was clear why. Mizuna has a very strong flavor that over powers the flavor of the dressing. Also, I either under cooked the mizuna—or it is simply too tough and stringy—for this dish.
Karl’s Mizuna no Ohitashi
9 oz. mizuna
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ cup dashi
1½ Tbs. ponzu soy sauce
2 Tbs. mirin
¼ cup katsuobushi, dried shaved bonito, loose packed
1. Rinses the greens and set a large pot of water to boil.
2. Fill a large bowl or pot with water and add some ice to chill it.
Tip: This ice water will be used to shock the greens and keep them from over cooking.
3. If the roots are still attached, cut any roots from the base, but leave the base intact.
Note: The recipe called for cross cutting the base of each bunch, so that it would cook evenly. However—at the end of the process—you cut this part off, so that seems unnecessary.
4. Take ⅓-½ of the mizuna bunches and tie a string about 6 inches from the bases.
Tip: You do not want to make a tight bunch, because you want the greens to be loose enough that the hot water cooks them evenly.
Note: Your goal here is to keep the strands of mizuna together, instead of turning into a jumbled mess of greens. The string will keep the bunches together and in the same direction while it is boiling and it also makes it easier to take them out of the hot water.
5. Add the salt to the boiling water and—holding the greens by the leafy tops—lower the stem ends into the pot.
6. Cook the stems for 5 seconds.
Tip: I would recommend cooking them for 20 seconds.
Note: The 5 second timing came from the original recipe, but I do not think it was long enough.
7. Push the rest of the bundle into the pot.
Tip: Keep hold of the string.
Note: A spider is useful device for pressing the leafy fronds into the hot water.
8. Parboil the greens for one minute and then transfer them to the ice water.
Tip: I recommend trying at least two minutes.
9. Squeeze out the excess moisture and spread the bunches out in a shallow tray.
Tip: Remove the string.
10. Repeat this process for the other bundle(s).
11. Mix dashi, soy sauce, and mirin to make the dressing.
12. Marinate the mizuna in the dressing for 10 minutes.
Tip: You may need to gently role the bunches, so that the dressing reaches every strand of the mizuna.
13. Gently squeeze out excess dressing and lay the bunches out in a line.
Tip: Reserve most of the sauce.
14. Cut off the bases and then cut the mizuna into two inch pieces.
15. Decoratively arrange the mizune on serving dish and chill it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Tip: Cover with plastic wrap.
16. Ten minutes before serving remove the mizuna ohitashi from the refrigerator and pour some of the dressing over the vegetables.
17. Garnish the salad with katsuobushi.