Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Toyko Bekana, by Melinda

Tokyo Bekana is a wonderfully sweet, tender, Asian green.  It's light greenish in color and can be used instead of lettuce in a salad or in place of cabbage in a slaw.  As the folks at "The Funny Farm" blog describe it, "So. Tokyo Bekana. Looks like lettuce. It has a nice sweet flavor with the crunchy crisp texture of lettuce. It is a type of mustard (Brassica juncea) so has lots of antioxidants and other nutrients. It is easy to grow. It is prolific. It has withstood 15 degree cold. Supposedly it will grow in summer [here in Atlanta, GA]. I will find out this year about that. It is an open-pollinated heirloom variety, so the seeds can be saved and replanted."

Tokyo Bekana (source)
I have to say that it's one of my favorite greens. Just a couple general suggestions about Tokyo Bekana. As noted above, it's terrific raw, torn up in salads; you can slice it and make it into slaw with some sort of mayo-like dressing; you can saute it with other greens like kale and spinach and use it as a layer in a lasagna dish; it's good in stir fries; and I would imagine (I plan to try this) that it would be lovely in a delicately flavored miso soup, perhaps along with some chopped tofu, mushrooms, and/or edamame (green soy beans, called "sweet beans" in the South).  OK, a couple recipes.

Tokyo Bekana Salad with Crunchies

The Greens

  • One head or bunch of Tokyo Bekana [this salad can also be made with Bok Choi or Napa cabbage, but Tokyo Bekana is tenderer]
  • Cilantro to taste
  • Green onions (scallions) to taste
The Dressing
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp agave syrup or honey
The Crunchies

  • 1 tsp canola or other mild oil
  • 1 bag ramen noodles (use only the noodles, not the flavor packet)
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
To prepare greens, cut the very end of the stems off the Tokyo Bekana stalks. Coarsely chop remaining leaves & stems into 1/2-inch pieces. Chop up the scallions and cilantro and add to the Tokyo Bekana (use as much or little scallion and cilantro as suits your taste).

Mix together all the dressing ingredients in a jar or bottle and shake it up really well (shake again before using).

To prepare the crunchies, lay the unopened bag of ramen noodles on the counter and whack them with something heavy (rolling pin? mallet? can of soup?) until they're fully crushed.  Sounds like something your kids might enjoy!  But do try not to pop the bag & have the noodles scatter over the floor where the dog will eat them. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and add 1 tsp canola oil. When hot, pour in the noodles (discarding flavor packet) and the almonds. Stirring occasionally, cook till the noodles are golden brown.

Combine everything in salad bowl, toss, & enjoy!  (Click here for recipe source, the "From Scratch Club")

Hot Poppin' Tokyo Bekana (Gluten-Free)

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small pieces chopped fresh ginger
  • mounds of Tokyo Bekana
  • 2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown rice vinegar
In a wok or large skillet, warm sesame oil on medium heat. Add sesame seeds and stir till you're overwhelmed with the nutty fragrance, the seeds darken a bit, and you wish you had a spring roll. [Melinda loves the way this woman writes!]  Add the garlic & ginger, but watch out! (The sesame seeds freaked out and flew out of the pan in all directions when I added the garlic and ginger. This was quite a surprise to me, but I persevered through the stings, and I stirred, yelped, and danced in front of the stove....) After a minute, add greens by the handful, cooking them down. In 3-5 minutes, they'll still be a beautiful, light, spring green, and the stems should still be crunchy. Serve the greens with plain quinoa. The nutty taste complements the Asian flavor of the greens. Drizzle with leftover saute sauce.  (Recipe source, Gluten-Free Cat!)
Hot Poppin' Tokyo Bekana (source)
I'll end by saying it's very difficult to find recipes for Tokyo Bekana. Not even many CSAs grow it, so we're lucky to have it!


  1. Or you could use some "real" pasta, leftover or freshly cooked... I'd like to try growing this, it sounds very good!

  2. I think the Hot Poppin Tokyo Bekana would be fabulous with pasta! Yes, I hope to try growing it at home too.