All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.

2013-09-02

Myoga Japanese ginger buds













Buds of Zingiber mioga

Myoga is the name of the plant, yet the word usually means the plant's buds when food is the topic.

In summer and early fall, these jewels appear from the ground, emerging little by little. A tiny mole (cute one) coming out of the dark earth, looking confused -- that's how myoga buds appear. As a strong reminder of the season, myoga appears in a number of dishes, mainly as a garnish, in Japan. It is great simply sliced and added to green leafy salads, on top of steamed rice, cold noodles, miso soup, sunomono with rice vinegar dressing, tempura ... you name it. Myoga has a zesty tang and aroma, and its breezy sensation is a bit similar to the effect of mint. Myoga's taste and aroma are sharper than ginger's, and they are at their height when myoga is fresh and immediately after being cut or sliced. When preparing myoga raw for a dish, make sure to slice or cut it at the end, ideally immediately before serving, to enjoy its distinctive qualities. When used in cooking, you can still enjoy the taste and smell of myoga but on a milder level.

Among a number of summer vegetables in Japan, these little ginger buds rank in the top three that really remind me of summer. Many families have a myoga plant or two in their backyard in Japan, at least where I grew up, and so do my parents. For me, it is an indispensable little vegetable for summer time. There are actually early (summer) harvest and later (early fall) season myoga, so for some people myoga may be a reminder of late summer or early fall.

There is a superstition about this vegetable: If you eat too much, you will become forgetful. I repeatedly heard this when young.
One of the common stories behind this saying is based on a very forgetful monk called Cuuda-pantaka, a disciple of Buddha. Buddha let him wear a name tag, which is called a myoga in Japanese. So it's a pun. Lots of myoga are said to grow near this monk's tomb, too. Another common story is that because of the strong stimulation of myoga, parents said these words in order to prevent kids from eating too much. 

On the contrary, today myoga's scent substance (α-Pinene) is said to increase your concentration by stimulating the cerebral cortex. α-Pinene also promotes perspiration, conditions breathing and helps blood circulation. Myoga is relatively rich in fiber (2.1 g/100 g; 1.7 g insoluble fiber), Vitamin C (2 mg), calcium (25 mg) and potassium (210 mg). All together, these little buds are also said to boost appetite and alleviate lower back pain, hypertension, stiff shoulders, neuralgia and rheumatism. In oriental medicine, myoga is considered effective for insomnia and menstrual irregularities.

While the bud is the best-known part of the plant for consumption, I have heard that young stems can be used in the same way as buds (garnish). In addition, in some regions leaves are used as wrappers, much like bamboo leaves. Myogadake is a young stem that is elongated by covering the bud with soil or similar materials. I have never personally seen it, but it is obviously quite common in some regions.

12 kcal/100 g; 95.6% water, 0.9% protein, 0.1% fat, 2.6% carbohydrate, 0.8% ash


Recipes with myoga

Try myoga in the following recipes


(Last updated: August 20, 2017)

7 comments:

Sissi said...

Myoga is one of the biggest discoveries in vegetable world in my whole life! I have fallen in love with it, but sadly even pickled myoga is not available here. I once saw here fresh myoga in my Japanese grocery shop. Bought the last package (even though the price was outrageous) and made some chicken and myoga skewers I had had in Japan... Pure delight.
If I manage to get some this year, I know where to look for recipes. Thank you for so many ideas.

neco said...

Hi Sissi,
I, too, was shocked to see the price of myoga at a Japanese grocery store in Seattle the other day. Myoga is very easy to grow -- it is the hardiest among the Zingibers. It is usually available as a cold hardy ornamental plant with a tropical look in the US/Canada and Europe. I am waiting for my new myoga plans to establish in my garden. Hopefully, I will have a plenty of harvest next year to indulge myself!

Pat Thompson said...

Myoga plants are available from www.SecretGardenGrowersStore.com. Look up 'Zingiber' and you will find it!

neco said...

Hi Pat,
Thank you for the information. I bought my late-season myoga at Mizuki Nursery in Seattle in late 90s (the nursery closed its doors several years ago) and most recently early-season myoga from Far Reaches Farm (http://www.farreachesfarm.com/) in Port Townsend, WA. Mine are all solid green leaf varieties which are common for culinary use.
Those who live in an area with a Japanese community may find a free myoga plant through Japanese-language free papers (print or online; you can place a wanted ad in English).

Tarah Scarbrough said...

You can order it on Amazon. I paid maybe 11 bucks for some fresh rhizomes. Gettin my first flowers now.
Japanese Myoga Ginger Seeds 30g from Japan with Instructions https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018I2WMAC/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_c_api_eiYVybYNNTJYD

neco said...

Hi Tarah,
Thank you for the valuable information!
I have only grown myoga from divided stock and never thought about starting from seeds, but I see it is possible. Its flowers are pretty, aren't they?

Tarah Scarbrough said...

It wasn't the seed u get. It's divided stock also get the pieces of the rhizome no roots or stem. Pretty much just looked piece of ginger you would buy at the store. I haven't cooked with it yet because I'm still figuring out what to do with it and when to pick it. But I have eaten a couple of the flowers that have opened up and they are super tasty. I just had 2 more bud come up too. Well worth the $11 I spent.