Nov 29, 2011

An Unordinary Watercress Variation Shipped to the Market from Tazawako!

A group of local farmers in Daisen City and Semboku City have just begun marketing new variety of watercress. It has been calling a lot of attention from the local restauranteurs around Tazawako area!

Baton of Unique Seedlings Passed from Yamanashi to Akita Farmers:

Sakigake On The Web
The seedlings were originally cultivated by Mr. Watanabe, a farmer in Yamanashi prefecture. Back in 2008, he found some unordinary branches with thicker stalks and larger and more leaves. He cut out some parts that were in good condition and continued to propagate from them for a few years.

Mr. Watanabe, now age 76, had been considering retirement and looking for a farmer to entrust the seedlings to. That was when Mr.Taguchi in Tazawako, Semboku City, was called and inherited the unique seedlings to resume the cultivation.

Back in April, with another fellow farmer, Mr. Watanabe and Mr.Taguchi applied for Variety Registration to Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. In a few months, the new variety was officially registered as Kurebijin (クレ美人).

Kurebijin, whose name takes parts from Kureson (Watercress) and Bijin (a beautiful person), averages about 0.5-7cm in stalks, 25cm in height, and 3cm 1.5cm in the leaves.

Compare to 13.5cm pen. These are small ones.

“Kurebijin is More Versatile than Other Watercress,” Recommended by Momoya Restaurant

In Japan, watercress has become more widely-known in quite recent years. The highly-nutritious leaves –rich in Calcium, Vitamin C and B, K, Magnesium, Zinc, etc - can be enjoyed raw or cooked. It is potential to become the next big hit among the health-conscious people!

At a local restaurant, Momoya, for example, Kurebijin has been served as a seasonal side dish for their Genmai-Teishoku, brown rice combination. (Related post)  The watercress is served as crunchy tempura as well as in marinated salad with wasabi (horseradish) leaves.

Genmai Teishoku (玄米定食), Brown Rice Combination

Brown Rice with Wild Rice, Pickled vegetables, Watercress and
Yam Tempura, and beans, marinated watercress and wasabi, radish with ankake sauce.
(Clockwise from top left)

Momoya is an exquisite restaurant with high quality ingredients and classic style. The lunch offers you local  cuisine for good prices. It is also one of the few places to find a brown rice plate! Seasonal dishes are served on small individual plates to accompany the sticky brown rice. It also comes with a cup of tea of a healthy blend of wild plants.

The hostess said to us, “the great thing about this watercress variation is that you can cook them anyway you like – fried, boiled, in soup, salad, etc – and still enjoy the crispy texture and mustard taste. You can even cook them in nabe (hot pot) ! We certainly recommend it.”

Momoya would be an excellent choice for your kurebijin experience, but you can also find them at local grocery stores like Takayanagi (a few minutes from JR Tazawako Station) for only 160 yen.

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