Know Your Shoots: What Is Myoga?

If you're all up to date on your yuzu, tamari and matcha, consider this your new favorite Asian ingredient. What is myoga? Also known as Japanese ginger, myoga is a plant native to China, Japan and Korea. Rather than using the root for flavor, the flower buds and plant shoots are harvested for culinary use. Basically, it's the ginger flavor of your dreams in a cute little package. We spoke with chef Nick Kim of NYC sushi and kaiseki restaurant Shuko, who first came across this ingredient as an apprentice at Los Angeles' famed Masa.

"At Shuko, we use myoga in our sashimi salad, with raw slices of yellowtail, daikon radish and shiso leaf," says the chef. "For cocktails, we pickle the myoga and use it as a garnish for our Nagano Sour cocktail. I think myoga is best sliced raw. It's just so bright and sweet."

Where can you find this refreshing treat? Japanese or Asian markets will carry it either fresh or pickled, but many gardeners have found success growing it at home. It can be grown year-round, but peaks between spring and fall. Kim's co-chef Jimmy Lau cultivates his own crop for the restaurant.

What else can you do with it? "Canapés, sous-vide and grilled," adds Kim, "Myoga is just so versatile. Myogatake is the stem of the myoga, which is also excellent and equally delicious."