When Simple is Best: Komatsuna and Chicken Stir-Fry

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

Serves 2.

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


  1. 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.
  2. Heat oil on low-medium in a large frying pan. Add the grated garlic and simmer for a minute.
  3. Add the chicken strips and cook till white on both sides but not done.
  4. Add the vinegar and soy sauce.
  5. When the chicken is just cooked through (not pink in the middle), add the sesame seeds, salt, pepper, and chopped komatsuna.
  6. 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).
  7. Serve hot. Goes well with kabocha.


*May substitute spinach (hourensou, ほうれん草) or other leafy greens.


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