Technically, it’s not new. In fact, if you like Asian food, you’ve probably been eating it for years. It is a staple addition to stir-fries, soups, ramen and rice bowls and a multitude of other common Asian meals. Its leaf has been a component of mesclun mixes for a minimum of twenty years. Tatsoi has dark green spoon-shaped leaves that waves merrily from pale stalks. In fact, it is sometimes called spoon mustard and is a member of the mustard family. Eaten both raw and cooked, tatsoi is often handled in much the same way as spinach. It works well with shellfish, chicken, pork, vegetables, eggs and a laundry list of spices and herbs.
Native to China, tatsoi is almost cultishly revered in Japan. The Japanese consider it an ancient green, deserving of reverential respect and acknowledgement. Lightly cooked, the leaves have a creamy texture, a nutty flavor and a sweet scent. The crunchy stalks have been rumored to be delicious when slathered with peanut butter. Long simmered soups take on a bright finish when a bunch of tatsoi is added at the very end. Tatsoi greens quickly braised in garlic turn a bowl of quinoa or pasta into a new experience. A stir-fry composed of chicken slivers, tatsoi, garlic, ginger and sesame will leave no leftovers. A favorite lunch is to add a small dash of minced garlic to a hot, lightly oiled wok, stir once or twice and add a diced green apple and handful of pea tendrils and another of tatsoi. Simplicity and perfection in a single bowl.
Naturally, it is also good for you. With an impressive amount of calcium, tatsoi is also a good source of vitamins A, C and K. Invite this ancient Asian green to your table often. This week’s offered recipe is Ginger Wilted Tatsoi, which may be served as a side dish or spooned over pasta or rice. If you plan to use it with pasta or rice, it is best to separate the stalk from the leaves and cut the stalks in to bite-sized pieces.