Mitsuba, or Japanese parsley (Cryptotaenia japonica) is one of the many Japanese herbs we're regularly plucking from the garden.
It's a perennial plant that will thrive for four to five years, and will self seed if it's happy. We grow it outside here, on the flanks of Mount Welly at 300m, with all the frost, snow and wind that brings. It often dies down in the depths of winter here, and re-appears in spring. It's looking happy in a well composted, but not well watered corner of the garden through this hot weather. It's worthy of a place in the veggie plot for picking in generous quantities, or in the ornamental garden to enjoy the delicate white flowers and pretty foliage. It will thrive in a sheltered position, with well composted soil, in sun or part shade.
A parsley relative, with broad, mild flavoured leaves, to me it tastes like a gentle blend of parsley and celery, a lot of my books mention notes of chervil as well. The subtle flavour and texture of the young leaves makes it easy to find a place for in the kitchen. I like to pick newly unfurled leaves to use raw in salads, and older ones dropped into a hot broth just before serving or shredded in an omelette. I've also read that the seeds are commonly used as sprouts in Japan, whole leaves or bundles of stems for tempura, or leaves used to garnish and flavour chawan mushi.
We've got loads of healthy seedlings of this gem coming to Farm Gate Market this Sunday, the 29th of January, along with shisho, perhaps some small shungiku seedlings and a few wasabi plants for your Japanese kitchen garden, not to mention the rest of our ever expanding collection of edible plants. Come and see us from 9-1, and meet my special friend, colleague and inspiration, Sam from midday.