Today I would like to introduce to you Japanese ginger – we know it as ‘Myoga/Mioga’. Originally grown in Japan, it has been loved and used for Japanese summer dishes as a herb. Unlike normal ginger, we eat the buds, not the roots. It is hardy and easy to grow in your garden or in a pot on your verandah. Winter or early spring is the perfect time to start growing ‘Myoga/Mioga’ – so let’s get started.
Myoga/Mioga ginger – loved by Japanese
Myoga ginger is in the same family as normal ginger, which is familiar to us all. As it is native to Japan, and mostly consumed in Japan, it‘s called ‘Japanese ginger’. Actually, most Japanese are not aware it belongs to the family of ginger, so we simply call it ‘myoga’. The binomial name is Zingiber mioga.
What’s different from the normal ginger?
Unlike normal ginger, we enjoy the flower buds (and sometimes the spring leaf shoots). The taste and flavour are also quite different from normal ginger. So we use Myoga and normal ginger together as different herbs in a dish.
How to eat?
Pick the flower buds from your garden and finely shred them. Then simply use it as a garnish in dishes such as cold tofu, cold somen noodles, sashimi or miso soup – as you would use normal ginger – its super easy.
Myoga is often used for cool dishes because myoga’s flower buds are harvested in summer. Its distinctive aroma boosts your appetite, especially on a hot summer day.
You can enjoy Myoga in both fresh and preserved forms.
Like all other herbs, freshly picked Myoga is the best way to enjoy the aroma – the flower buds can come up too quickly to consume at once, so you can preserve them by pickling or freesing form for an extra month.
Easy to grow at home
Fresh myoga flower buds can be available in certain places, but it is still very uncommon in Australia. How about we try to grow it?
Myoga is hardy and easy to grow outdoors or indoors – in shady beds or containers. So if you are fortunate to live with a splendid harbor view that receives sunlight all day, you need to keep the myoga in the shade – whilst you may enjoy the direct sun, the myoga does not.
I am growing it at the moment, so let’s try with me.
How to start?
You need to have the roots of myoga from a nursery or friend. I purchased them from ‘Earthcare Enterprises’ in QLD and 5-6 roots cost $35 AUD including the shipping fee.
Once you receive the roots, dig a canal in your shady beds or planters which is about 5cm deep and place roots separately. Cover them with soil and keep them in a shady spot – that’s all.
In a month a new shoot should come up from the soil – exciting!
What’s next ? – overview of the cycle
Let me explain the overview of the cycle.
- Plant the roots under the soil
- New shoots come up – Do NOT harvest them yet
- Shoots grow up and the flower buds come up from the soil – harvest the buds
- The shoots wither and roots will rest during winter
- ‘2’ starts again
In the first year, you may only be able to harvest a few buds, or maybe none, but in the second year you should be able to harvest the spring shoots if you are interested.
I will provide further details of my experience with growing them – so keep in touch with me.
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