For a vegetable that is rarely called for in Western recipes, Asian mustards are diverse, prolific and interesting. In the Far East, the most common use for mustards is pickling. They are also common in soups and stir-fries in both China and Japan, as well as salads, for the milder varieties. Some varieties are leafy like kale or spinach, while others form a head, more like a cabbage. Colors range from reddish to purple to the more common green. You can harvest and use the entire plant for pickling or cooking, or let it go to seed and make your own mustard in the blender using the seeds, some vinegar, spices and water.
Baby leaf mustards are making quite an inroad into Western cuisine, particularly in salads, where they add an appetizing flavor and texture. The delicately spiced greens are striking in appearance, particularly the varieties with lacey or frilly leaves. Their colors, which range from bright light green to garnet red, also add appeal to salads or alongside a gourmet dish. These baby greens grow quickly, and young leaves can be harvested on the lower part of even a mature plant.