Komatsuna Nibitashi is a quintessential Japanese side dish. It is light, healthy, and subtly flavored, and can go with any entree and steamed rice. You don’t see this traditional but easy dish very often at Japanese restaurants in the US, but it is very typical Japanese food made and eaten at home.
Komatsuna is a green leafy vegetable, also known as mustard spinach in English. It has a little bitterness to it, which is nice, but it is quite mild. Because Komatsuna is a good general green vegetable in terms of its taste, it is a convenient and versatile vegetable to use in any dish, just like spinach. It is usually cooked in seasoned broth or boiled in Japanese food, but it can be also used in less traditional (or western) dishes such as gratin.
Nibitashi is a cooking method of braising vegetables with seasoned broth. Leaving and cooling ingredients in the seasoned broth is the key to absorbing flavor well. As it hardly uses any oil, it is a very healthy way of cooking. However, because it doesn’t contain much fat, it sometimes tastes a little too simple. Adding Aburaage, deep-fried thin Tofu, to the dish is also good to deepen the flavor. If you like more protein, you could add meat such as chicken thighs to give more richness.
Komatsuna Nibitashi takes no time to make, and also it is a great make-ahead dish. It’s a very nice accompaniment for any meat or fish entree. Make this for tonight’s dinner!
- 10 oz (300g) Komatsuna
- 1 large (rectangular) Aburaage
- 1/2 cup (120ml) Dashi
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Sake
- 2 Tbsp Mirin
- Wash Komatsuna well and cut into 1 1/2" (4cm) long pieces. Cut Aburaage into 1/2" (1cm) width strips.
- In a pot, heat Dashi, sugar, Soy Sauce, Mirin, and Sake. Add Komatsuna and Aburaage and cook for a couple of minutes, until softened.
- Cover and let it cool completely. Serve at room temperature or heat up.