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Local Bounty: January 14

Organic Japanese Produce Grown by Nijiya

By Caron Golden

Nijiya Market on Convoy in Kearny Mesa is the rare market that actually has its own organic farm, in this case in San Diego’s North County. No, it doesn’t sell its own produce exclusively, but what it does grow and sell is well labeled and quite beautiful. The chain now has 13 stores—one in San Diego, five more in the L.A. area, four in Northern California, one in New York, and two in Hawaii. But they only have one farm and so we get both organic and local.

I’ve picked out three items from the farm that are currently being harvested and sold.

Local Bounty: January 14

Organic produce from Nijiya Market

Photos by Caron Golden

From left: mitsuba, satsuma imo kintoki, manganji togarashi

Satsuma Imo Kintoki

I know when you see the word Satsuma (which was once a Japanese province) you immediately think of a variety of mandarin orange, but these are Japanese sweet potatoes, and have been grown in Japan since the early 17th century. Satsuma was well known for their production of these tubers. The skin is a reddish brown and the flesh is a pale yellow with a very mild flavor. Typically they’re boiled or roasted, but certainly they can be fried—and served with a horseradish mayo dip—or turned into croquettes, added to soup, or made into tempura. $2.99 a pound


This wild Japanese parsley is named for the three leaves that sprout from the stems of the plant. The taste is most definitely reminiscent of flat- and curly-leaf parsley and has a bit of the celery leaf flavor to it as well—what they all share is a slight bitterness married to a clean, grassy flavor. The entire plant is edible. Add it to salads or sushi, but also use it to top a rice dish or garnish a Japanese soup like miso or ramen, donburi or udon soup bowls. $1.99 a bunch

Manganji Togarashi

I’m so taken already by small mild green chilies like padrons and shishitos that when I saw these similar looking peppers I scooped them up without thinking. Manganji means green pepper in Japanese and this togarashi variety is local to Kyoto. They’re larger and fleshier—and less wrinkled—than shishitos, and not at all spicy. They’re perfect for tempura, but I know I’ll be tossing them in a light oil and grilling them on my stovetop. Then they’ll get tossed in sea salt and lemon zest or perhaps some ponzu sauce. $5.99 a pound, but sold in packages of around half a pound

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