乙な味 (otsuna aji)- strange taste; spicy taste
I often don’t have a lot of time to cook dinner in the evenings after work. The quickest thing to make on busy days when I haven’t cooked ahead for the week is stir-fry, and this is one of the easiest ones I’ve made. Komatsuna (小松菜), “Japanese Mustard Spinach,” is very easy to find year-round and costs less than spinach in Japan; the slight mustard bite of the greens, while a bit odd when raw, really complements the chicken when cooked together.
The longer I live here, the more I find myself enjoying really simple flavors and actually tasting the ingredients, which is precisely what this stir-fry achieves. If you want to spice this up, you could add a little shichimi (七味), seven-flavor spice.
Komatsuna and Chicken Stir-Fry
1 Tablespoon sesame oil (goma abura, ごま油)
1 teaspoon grated garlic (ninniku oroshi, ニンニクおろし)
1 chicken breast, sliced into strips (tori mune niku、 鶏胸肉)
1 teaspoon vinegar (su, 酢)
1 teaspoon soy sauce (shouyu, 醤油)
A pinch of toasted sesame seeds (irigoma, いりゴマ)
Salt and pepper to taste (shio; 塩; and koshou, 胡椒)
2 bunches of komatsuna (小松菜)*
A large frying pan with lid
- Wash the komatsuna and cut off the end of the stems. Starting from the stems, cut on a slight diagonal into 3-cm pieces. Set aside.
- Heat oil on low-medium in a large frying pan. Add the grated garlic and simmer for a minute.
- Add the chicken strips and cook till white on both sides but not done.
- Add the vinegar and soy sauce.
- When the chicken is just cooked through (not pink in the middle), add the sesame seeds, salt, pepper, and chopped komatsuna.
- Turn the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the komatsuna softens and wilts slightly. (Unlike spinach, komatsuna retains its shape fairly well).
- Serve hot. Goes well with kabocha.
*May substitute spinach (hourensou, ほうれん草) or other leafy greens.