Komatsuna: Spring's Little Black Dress

Komastuna (Ko-ma-tsu-na) -- Japanese mustard spinach -- returns this season. She's a beauty of a green. Kinda like the "little black dress" of spring greens. 

I hear you scoff.

You see, Komatsuna does well in many forms: stir fry, add to soups, use fresh in salads, blanch and then roll into sushi, or pickle. She's a rather versatile item. In general, I like to use asian greens in asian-style dishes, so for spring, I tend to make chilled or warm noodle-based salads and add a bunch of ginger, garlic and shredded greens.  

Another favorite stand-by is to make a kimchi (Korean-style pickle) out of the greens and serve it over some creamy grits. It's a great brunch dish. While the recipe may seem long, it's a small amount of hands-on time. Mostly, it does the work by itself, sitting on your kitchen bench.

Komastuna Kimchi

Makes: two quarts

1 large bunch of komastuna, washed well.
1 gallon (4l) water
1/2 cup (100g) coarse salt
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
one 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 cup cayenne powder (oh, yes!)
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch (3cm) lengths
1 teaspoon sugar or honey 

Slice the cabbage lengthwise in half, then slice each half lengthwise into 3 sections. Cut away the tough stem chunks.

Dissolve the salt in the water in a very large container, such as a pot, then submerge the cabbage under the water. Put a plate on top to make sure they stay under water. Stand for 2 hours.

Mix the other ingredients in a very large metal or glass bowl.

Drain the komastuna, rinse it, and squeeze it dry. Now, mix it in with the other ingredients in the metal/glass bowl.

Pack the kimchi in a clean glass jar large enough to hold it all and cover it tightly. Let stand for one to two days in a cool place, around room temperature. In the Summer, it can be stored in the fridge otherwise it's ok to leave it out.

Check the kimchi after 1-2 days. If it’s bubbling a bit, it’s ready and should be refrigerated. If not, let it stand another day, when it should be ready.

Once the kimchi is fermenting, serve or store in the refrigerator. 

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