5 Japanese Vegetables You Should Get to Know

  • FOOD
  • Japan has basic veggies like potatoes, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes and others, but there are also plenty of greens that are a staple in Japan. Some of these can be rather rare outside the country or outside of Asia. Learn about some of the vegetables used in traditional Japanese dishes to increase your knowledge of Japanese cuisine!

    Komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach)

    As the English name already suggests, komatsuna is similar to spinach. The advantage here is that it is not as bitter as spinach therefore it can be eaten with salads, pickled or in soups.


    Mizuna literally means ‘water greens’ and is also known as Japanese mustard or spider mustard. Having no bitterness, mizuna is often used in salads too. A popular combination is with daikon (Japanese white radish). It is also eaten in nabe (Japanese soup). Recently it is popular in smoothies too or as decoration for side dishes.

    Shiso (Perilla leaf)

    A herb, which comes in two forms: aojiso, a more green perilla leaf and akajiso, the red variety. It is mint-like and the green one is served with sashimi, in Japanese-style salads. The red variation is used in sushi and also is used for pickling Japanese plums.

    Daikon (Japanese white radish)

    It can be eaten raw, cooked, boiled, grated or even pickled. It is cheap and very popular. The lower half of the root is rather tangy, but when cooked it becomes slightly sweet. It can also be pickled and eaten as a dish called ‘takuan’. It is so versatile, that it is used in salads, in soups, and grated even as a topping on tonkatsu (pork cutlet), tempura, udon and soba noodles.

    Okura (Okra)

    This is a very decorative vegetable: once cut into slices they look like beautiful stars. It has a sticky texture and is most of the time boiled in order to mix it into salads, udon, or with katsuobushi (smoked bonito flakes). It can be deep fried and eaten as tempura, too.

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