Wasabina, natto, and umeboshi aemono

Wasabina is a winter green in the brassica family. It has a crisp, satisfying texture with a gentle spiciness reminiscent of wasabi. Though it is most often eaten raw in salads, it is also a delicious addition to soups, stir-fries, or this lightly blanched recipe.

The taste of wasabina is said to go well with the cheese-like overtones of natto. Natto is fermented soybeans, similar to tempeh but with a soft and sticky texture. It can be found in the refrigerator section of most Asian food supermarkets.

The other component of this recipe is umeboshi. Umeboshi is Japanese pickled plum, a long-fermented and extremely healthy apricot-like fruit with a pronounced combination of sweet, sour, and salty flavors. Umeboshi can be found in many Asian supermarkets and health food stores.

This combination of fresh greens and two kinds of fermented foods packs a lot of nutrition into a relatively small dish. Wasabina provides a good supply of Vitamins B and C as well as calcium and iron. Natto supplies easily digestible plant protein, Vitamin K, and possesses several cancer-fighting properties. Umeboshi is good for digestion and systemic toxicity.

“Aemono” means “dressed foods” and refers to a wide range of traditional salad-like dishes in Japanese cuisine. Vegetables are often used raw or lightly blanched and combined with a light dressing. Aemono ingredients often include seasonal delicacies and provide a simple means to stay connected to both time and place in daily eating.

Unlike large American salads, aemono is intended to be served in small portions as an appetizer, a light side dish, or a companion to sake or beer.


wasabina, one bag
natto, one pack (40 g)
umeboshi (pickled plum), 1 (seed removed)

tare (sauce) If the natto came with a pack of tare, use that. If not, you can make your own--use the easy recipe at the end of this article.


(1) Quickly submerge the wasabina in a pot of boiling water. Between two and five seconds will be sufficient--the wasabina should be soft and limp but not boiled.

(2) Rinse in cold water to cool, then squeeze lightly to remove excess water and set aside.

(3) Chop the natto and umeboshi .

(4) In a mixing bowl, mix the natto, the umeboshi, and the tare.

(5) Chop the wasabina roughly into small bite-sized pieces, add to the mixing bowl, and combine with the other ingredients.

(6) Move to a serving dish and top with nori, sesame, or other garnishes as you wish.

Aemono is best eaten right away.

This dish  works well as a side dish at any meal of the day as well as a healthy snack or drinking companion with sake or beer.

Easy “tare” recipe for natto

soy sauce, 1 tbsp
mirin, 1/2 tbsp
dashi, 1.5 tbsp of water combined with a large pinch of powdered hondashi

Combine all ingredients, then heat in the microwave for 20 seconds.