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Momina is a young, fresh, and tender seedling, often comprised of a thin root attached to developing leafy greens. The slender roots have a tapered appearance leading to a point, generally around 6 to 7 centimeters in length, and the skin is smooth, delate, and ivory to white. Underneath the surface, the root’s flesh is crisp, succulent, and slightly crunchy. In addition to the roots, the dark green leaves are broad, flat, and pliable, showcasing prominent veining across the surface. The leaves are also attached to pale green stems reaching 20 to 38 centimeters in length. Momina roots have a subtly sweet, peppery, and mild flavor, and the leaves have a green, slightly piquant, and grassy taste.
Momina is available in the early fall through winter.
Momina, botanically classified as Raphanus sativus, is a young seedling of the daikon radish belonging to the Brassicaceae family. The seedlings are traditionally pulled while growers are thinning their radish crop and are sold as a specialty ingredient for a wide variety of fresh and cooked preparations. Momina is also known as Daikonna, Tsumina, Nakanukina, Namabiku, and Mabiki-Na, a name derived from mabiki, a general term used for young vegetables that have been removed to make room for crops to grow larger in the field. In Japan, Momina is a rare crop that is primarily seasonal, and the slender roots and tender leaves are favored for their semi-sweet, peppery, and grassy flavor. Historically, Momina refers to young daikon seedlings, but over time, the term has become used for young radish greens that have been grown from seed and do not produce a large root. Both types of Momina are seen in Japanese markets, and retailers generally do not distinguish between the two as they are used similarly in culinary dishes.
Momina is a source of vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, vitamin K to assist in faster wound healing, and potassium to balance fluid levels within the body. The leaves and roots also provide folic acid to produce red blood cells, calcium to protect bones and teeth, and other amounts of copper, iron, and magnesium.
Momina has a mildly sweet and peppery flavor well suited for both raw and lightly cooked preparations. The slender roots and leaves can be washed and chopped into salads, stirred into soups, especially miso, or mixed into rice and noodle-based dishes. They can also be stir-fried with vegetables, cooked into omelets and other egg dishes, wrapped into fresh or fried rolls, or blended into juices. In Japan, the greens are popularly prepared in sesame sauce as a side dish, lightly stir-fried, or made into ohitashi, which is vegetables steeped in a dashi-based sauce. In addition to incorporating into cooked dishes, the roots and greens can be served raw as a refreshing accompaniment to tempura and other deep-fried dishes as a reprieve from heavier flavors. The seedlings are also served with any dish where the taste of daikon radish would complement savory ingredients. Momina pairs well with mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, eggplant, lotus root, herbs such as coriander, mint, dill, and thyme, meats including beef, pork, duck, and poultry, tofu, tofu skin, and seafood such as fish, scallops, and crab. Whole, unwashed Momina has a short shelf life and will only keep for a couple of days when stored in the refrigerator. The tiny roots and leaves should be used immediately for the best quality and flavor. The leaves have an especially short shelf life and will wilt and turn yellow relatively quickly after harvest.
Momina is considered rare in commercial markets and is primarily found through local growers in Japan. The practice of thinning out seedlings is well-known among Japanese farmers, but some growers have begun to space out daikon radish cultivation, no longer requiring the thinning process. Despite the decline in thinning, many traditional Japanese farmers still plant the seedlings close together for increased protection during their delicate, new growth stage. As the seedlings mature, several of the plants are pulled to create space between the radishes. The thinned plants are either consumed by the growers or sold that same day to consumers for culinary use. Daikon radishes are one of the most cultivated vegetables in Japan and are viewed as a purifying food to detox the body and stimulate digestion. While Momina is an unusual, hyper-seasonal stage of the daikon growth cycle, the tender greens attached to the slender roots are expanding in popularity as a niche market vegetable among health-conscious consumers.
Momina is a descriptor for the young seedlings of daikon radishes, which experts believe to be native to the Mediterranean and coastal regions along the Black Sea. The mild roots were introduced to Asia through trade routes in ancient times, and the radishes arrived in Japan sometime during the Heian Era. Daikon radishes were mentioned in Japanese texts in the 10th and 11th centuries and became widely cultivated throughout Japan during the Edo period. For many years, Momina was consumed mostly among growers and was rarely seen outside of local farms. Over time as fresh markets expanded, growers began offering the pulled seedlings as a seasonal, specialty crop to create an additional source of income. Today Momina is cultivated throughout Japan, mainly in the Saitama, Kanagawa, and Tokyo Prefectures. The roots and leaves are sold through local markets, roadside stands, growers, and select grocers.
Recipes that include Momina. One is easiest, three is harder.
|sweetveg||Sauteed Daikon Greens with Onion, Garlic and Lemon|