Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vegetable Highlight: Tatsoi

Tatsoi Plant

"Tatsoi? What the heck is that?"

That was my husband's reaction to the new and exotic vegetable that we picked up from our CSA last year.  Neither one of us had heard of this green plant that resembles bok choi.

After falling in love with the tender leaves of tatsoi, I decided it was a must have addition for my garden.  This fall (mid-September), I direct sowed some tatsoi seeds in my garden.  I watered them a few times when the seedlings were tiny, but other than that, I've let them be.
My tatsoi 'patch'

Now, the plants are incredibly healthy looking, and close to a harvestable size.  I'm sure if they'd been given a better location, and more attention (water, love, etc.), the plants would be doing even better!

About Tatsoi
Given its name and appearance, I was not surprised to find out that tatsoi is an asian green of the brassica family, grown for its leaves. Started from seed, it can be harvested in just 50 days, and it is a cool weather crop hardy down to 15 degrees F.  It will even survive snow!

How to Grow Tatsoi
Tatsoi can be direct sown in the garden in spring or fall, but it does best in the fall.  Because it is cold hardy, and matures quickly, there is some flexibility in when it can be planted here in the piedmont.

Suggested planting times (direct sow):  August 1 - September 15; March 1 - April 1
Planting depth: 1/4 to 1/2 inches
Spacing after thinning: 6"
Sun/Shade: Sun to partial sun
Days to maturity: 45-50 days
Soil: Not too picky, but prefers fertile, well drained soil
Water: Frequently (mulch to maintain moisture)

Harvest: Harvest entire plants of tatsoi, or try harvesting the outer leaves as you need them.

Where to find tatsoi: Look for tatsoi seeds from local sources.  I purchased my tatsoi seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Company.

Culinary Uses
Tatsoi is a mild green, similar in flavor to bok choi.  Young leaves can be harvested and used raw in salads; while older leaves can be used in stir fries, soups, or sauteed.  One of my favorite ways to use tatsoi, is sauteed with garlic and mushrooms.

Recipes that use tatsoi
Grilled Halibut with Tatsoi and Spicy Thai Chiles 
Chilled Wilted Tatsoi Salad Recipe with Sesame-Ginger Dressing 
Gingery Sauteed Tatsoi with Tofu Steaks

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