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Red tatsoi is a small low-growing plant that forms a rosette of petite leaves with short pale lime green stems. Its spoon-shaped, deep burgundy-blushed leaves are glossy with a buttery, tender and succulent texture. Fresh Red tatsoi displays sweet and tangy flavors with a mineral finish. Once cooked, it develops a warm earthiness similar to spinach.
Red tatsoi is available year-round, with peak season in the spring and early summer.
Red tatsoi, botanical name Brassica narinosa is a cool-season flat-forming Chinese cabbage and member of the Brassicaceae (mustard) family. It is commonly known as Spoon mustard, Spinach mustard and Rosette bok choy. In Chinese, its name is wu ta cai and in Japan it is known as tasai. It is treated as a cut-and-come again leafy vegetable, allowing for multiple harvests on a single plant. The plant's maturity is signaled by flowering shoots arising from the foliage. Eventually the plant will sprout seeds, marking its life cycle's migration. The seeds can be saved and used for future crops.
Red tatsoi is a good source of vitamins A, C and K, carotenoids, folate, calcium and potassium.
Red tatsoi is a versatile culinary green used in similar fashion to spinach. It is also traditionally used as a pot herb and braising and pickling green in a diversity of cuisines from Asia to South America. Its tangy and earthy notes pair well with citrus, crisp cool ingredients such as pears, fennel and mint, warm flavors that are abundantly found in chiles, garlic and allspice. Pair Red tatsoi with ingredients rich in umami such as scallops, mushrooms, seaweed and braised meats. Fermented ingredients such as fish sauce, soy sauce and vinegars are also complimentary matches.
Red tatsoi's color is due to health boosting anthocyanins, phytochemicals with inherent health benefits. They have some of the strongest physiological effects of any plant compounds including anti-flammatory and anti cancer properties as well as diabetes preventative qualities.
Tatsoi is native to China. Red tatsoi, is a hybrid descendent of the original Green tatsoi. Its exact origin unknown, though cultivars have been developed in Europe, specifically France. As with all Chinese brassicas, Red tatsoi is a vigorous grower. It germinates quickly and seedlings develop so rapidly you can almost see them grow. Unlike the typical Western brassica, maturing in 5-10 months from sowing, plants can be harvested within 3-4 weeks of sowing. Though Red tatsoi will adapt to loamy and sandy soils, it thrives in fertile nitrogen-rich soil, warm days and cool nights.