緑黄色野菜 (ryokuôshoku yasai): leafy greens, yellow-green vegetables high in beta-carotene
After a cold winter that was only matched in length by the irritatingly hot summer that preceded it, spring has finally come to Hokuriku. The supermarket is filled with spring vegetables, but the easiest and perhaps most inoffensive one (least bitter) to prepare is na no hana (菜の花).
Na no hana literally means vegetable flowers or flowers of greens. Wikipedia tells me that the English name is tenderstem broccoli or broccolini (which my linguist friend tells me is incorrect), and alc.co.jp gives me field mustards (much more apt). The scientific name is Brassica napus. The plant these leaves come from has the (unfortunate) name of rape blossoms, the yellow flowers that bloom all over Japan and from which rapeseed oil comes. Because broccoli/broccolini is a misnomer, na no hana doesn’t really resemble Western broccoli. Rather, it resembles the texture and flavor of other Asian greens like bok choy and komatsuna in that it’s like spinach, but less limp and more punchy.
This recipe takes about 10 minutes to make–super easy. The greens have a slight bite to them, which the ponzu sauce, a citrus-based soy sauce, complements. It’s nice as a side dish to a Japanese-style meal–I served it with brown rice, takenoko (bamboo shoot) miso soup, lemon sweet potatoes, and unohana (okara)–all of which will be posted here eventually. (I have quite the backlog of recipes to get through, including the rest of the Apple Chronicles.)
Na no Hana in Ponzu