Mitsuba (三つ葉) is Japanese parsley. It has a unique, slightly bitter flavor, like a cross between cilantro, parsley and celery. Use it as a finishing touch in soups, omelets and Japanese dishes like chawanmushi and donburi!
I first discovered Mitsuba in a seed catalogue when I was looking for non-traditional types of parsley to grow.
The savory parsley is used often in Japanese and Chinese cuisine and the entire plant – leaves, stems, roots and seeds – are all edible!
What Is Mitsuba
Mitsuba is a popular herb in Japan, where it’s used similarly to parsley. In fact, it looks like a larger leaf version of its cousin!
You’ll often find it used as a garnish in Japanese soups and rice bowls to brighten up the final dish. It’s also incorporated into tempura batter to add an herbal freshness to fried food.
Mitsuba is also commonly folded into tamagoyaki (Japanese omelets) or tossed in with hand rolls and salads.
Although it’s used like an herb, mitsuba is part of the Apiaceae or carrot family. It grows wild in woodlands around Japan, China and Korea, and can easily reach 3 feet high if unpruned.
In traditional Japanese weddings, mitsuba stems are tied in a knot as a decoration meant to bring good luck to the newlyweds.
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How to Grow Mitsuba
Mitsuba is a very easy herb to grow.
It sprouts in 5 to 10 days and needs just 4-6 hours of sun, so it’s a great one to plant in low light spaces in your garden.
Sow seeds after the last frost in nutrient rich, well draining soil. Mitsuba can taste bitter if grown in full sun, so place it in a spot in the garden that receives at least partial shade.
Also be sure to trim Mitsuba to prevent it from flowering, which can also make the leaves bitter!
Mizuna Grow Guide
|Botanical Name||Cryptotaenia japonica|
|Common Name||Japanese parsley, wild Japanese parsley, stone parsley|
|Mature Size||18-24 inches tall|
|Days to Harvest||50 days from seed|
|Light||Partial sun, shade|
|Soil Type||Rich, well draining soil|
|Soil pH||Slightly acidic to Neutral (6.0 – 7.5)|
|Hardiness Zones||USA Zones 4-7|
Growing Mitsuba Hydroponically
Since I’m limited on space indoors, I like that mitsuba tastes a bit like both cilantro and parsley, so it kind of gives me two herbs in one.
To harvest, give the stems a straight haircut across once the plant is about 6 to 8 inches tall.
When you do this rather than just plucking off the leaves, you encourage the plant to grow more stems! Plus the stems themselves are edible.
Best Indoor Gardening Products to Grow Mitsuba
What to Look for When Buying Mitsuba
Look for Mitsuba in Asian grocery stores.
The herb is usually sold in a small bundle rubber banned together, with the root of the plant attached. Look for bright green leaves, free from yellowing or wilt.
How to Store and Prep
Herbs can go bad quickly if you don’t store them properly.
Wash mitsuba, wrap it in a damp paper towel and store it in the crisper section of your fridge. Or, put the herb in a mason jar of water and tie a plastic bag over the top. It should last 2 to 3 weeks using either of these methods.
But if you want to store your herbs for a really long time, get this herb saver!
I love this nifty gadget – it’s compact and has made such a difference in keeping my herbs fresh.. for as long as 2 months!
Mitsuba is used often in Japanese cooking as a garnish. Try it in some of these popular dishes:
- Donburi: sprinkle mitsuba on Japanese rice bowls like katsudon and oyakodon
- Soup: Garnish miso soup, chawanmushi, okayu or sukiyaki with mitsuba
- Nabe: add the topping to any kind of hot pot
- Tamagoyaki: fold mitsuba and scallions into a rolled omelet, Japanese style!
- Kakiage: mitsuba is a popular herb to add into tempura batter for an herby flavor
I know mitsuba can be hard to find, so you can substitute similar garnishes like cilantro, Italian parsley, green onion or scallions. If you’re looking to replicate that refreshing but slightly tart flavor, try a bitter green like arugula or watercress.
Health Benefits of Mitsuba
Mitsuba is a Japanese variety but native to much of East Asia, including Northern China and Korea.
The entire plant is edible and it’s often a garnish for miso soup, rice bowls or noodle dishes. The three leaf plant has a thin, light-green stalk and looks very similar to flat leaf parsley! When eaten, mitsuba is a good source of vitamin A, B1, B2, B9 and C as well as iron.
Traditional Chinese medicine also uses mitsuba in a tonic to help relieve stress and strengthen the body. The herb is supposed to remove toxins, inflammation and phlegm while stimulating blood flow.
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