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As one of the more popular Japanese tsukemono (preserved vegetables), pickled mustard leaf brightens even the most basic dishes.

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Niki Nakayama Teaches Modern Japanese CookingNiki Nakayama Teaches Modern Japanese Cooking

Niki Nakayama of two-Michelin-starred n/naka teaches you how to honor fresh ingredients with her innovative take on Japanese home cooking techniques.

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What Is Takana?

Takana, or takana-zuke, is a pickled Japanese mustard green made by soaking mustard greens, like nakazawa or komatsuna, in a soy sauce pickling agent. You can enjoy takana on its own or combine it with other seasonings to add to side dishes or stir-fry. Some brands sell chopped takana blended with sesame oil, dried bonito flakes, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce.

How to Use Takana

Pickled takana is enjoyed throughout Japan, both on its own or as a foolproof way to add a little heat and juicy crunch to various dishes.

  • As a condiment: You can use takana as a garnish or topping to add a burst of flavor to dishes like miso soup, tonkotsu-style ramen, and porridge (okayu). You can also incorporate the pickled greens into noodle dishes to highlight soba (long, thin noodle strands made from buckwheat flour and water) or udon (chewy noodles made from wheat flour, water, and salt, typically served in a simple dashi-based broth).
  • As a side dish: In Japan, takana is commonly eaten as an okazu, a type of side dish served alongside rice.
  • In stir-fry: To make takana chahan, also known as fukuoka or pickled mustard fried rice, cooks fry takana pickles in a bit of toasted sesame oil before adding it to the rest of the stir-fry.
  • In onigiri: Takana is a popular vegetarian filling for onigiri, or Japanese rice balls. Onigiri, also known as omusubi, are steamed, shaped rice balls that can feature a range of fillings, including kombu, grilled salmon flakes, pickled plum, bonito flakes, and tori gomoku, chicken and vegetables. Onigiri sometimes features an outer wrapper of nori (dried seaweed) for easier holding.
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