Mibuna is a delicate and unusual plant in the mustard family that has been grown for centuries in Japan. It is one of a few dozen vegetables known there as "Kyo yasai."
Kyoto was Japan's national capital during the Edo period (~800-1,200 AD). It hosted both the royal family and many important religious temples. Kyoto also played a key role in Japan's agriculture. Royal farms and Buddist gardens were the starting point of vegetables introduced by trade with China and other parts of Asia. Japan's own native plants had sparse offerings for human consumption. As these new plants were incorporated into Japanese agriculture numerous selections were made of those plants which performed well in the field and in Japanese cooking. Today about 50 specific vegetable selections can be traced back to the Edo period and to cultivation around Kyoto. These vegetables are called "Kyo yasai" and they have a special place in Japanese history and cuisine. Mibuna is one of them.
There are a great number of Japanese greens and many of them are in the mustard family. These plants often grow well in cool, damp conditions and several of them can overwinter in moderate climates. Minbuna has several characteristics that distinguish it from other Japanese greens. Each plant is comprised of many slender spear-shaped leaves that emerge from the soil in clumps. It grows slowly in the spring but by early summer the plants can reach 12-18 inches in height. It tolerates some "cut-and-come-again" cuttings.
In the kitchen Mibuna has a mild mustard flavor and it is typically used in stir fries and soups. It can also be eaten raw in salads. I think it has a more elegant look and taste than most Brassicas that we associate with Southern cooking.
I am not knowledgeable about the availability of Mibuna in the marketplace but I've never seen it for sale. Perhaps Japanese specialty markets in SoCal would be a better shot. Until proven otherwise I'll claim that Vegetables of Interest is the sole source of fine Mibuna. Kyo yasai-Kenwood!
This Mibuna was grown organically in my garden.
Seed source: Kitazawa Seed Co. Berkeley, CA