In spite of the coldest spring I remember, mizuna has been growing like crazy on my balcony. I have sown this delicious Japanese plant for the first time and am thrilled to see it adapts so easily to a different climate. Actually, it grows with such a speed, I have already harvested several handfuls in recent weeks. The only, very simple way I knew to enjoy mizuna was to make it into a green salad or mix with other leaves, but these spring rolls were well worth the small additional effort.

Mizuna (水菜) is one of the most popular Japanese leaf vegetables, used both raw and briefly cooked. Its long, thin fringed leaves are in a certain way similar to rocket (aka arugula) or dandelion, but they have a much more delicate taste, with a subtle peppery note (the younger the more delicate they are of course). Until now I have been using it only in salads, but given its growth easiness, I will certainly have many occasions to experiment.

These fresh spring rolls (also known as summer rolls) are very similar to those I posted here (with surimi, avocado and lettuce) and are a nice alternative to a salad starter, appetiser or a lighter replacement of a sandwich, for example at a picnic. I have always associated uncooked rice paper rolls with Vietnamese cuisine, but I have recently learnt they are also known in Japan as “harumaki” (春巻き), though I think mizuna is not their usual ingredient. In my opinion the extremely versatile rice paper can be filled with practically everything one likes, as long as it’s not leaking, and mizuna has been an interesting change.

You can serve these rolls with a mixture of soy sauce, chili oil and vinegar, but they were particularly good with this sesame paste dressing treated as a dip.

TIPS: If you add transparent (glass) noodles, these rolls will be more filling (in this case cut down the carrot and mizuna amounts).

Preparation: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients (8 rolls):

8 (22 cm or 8 3/4 in diameter) rice paper sheets

2 big handfuls of mizuna leaves 

2 big carrots

1 big baked, grilled, boiled or steamed chicken breast


(chili paste or sauce)

(mint leaves)

Julienne the carrots.

Cut the mizuna leaves in two.

Cut the chicken breast in two horizontally and then into thin strips.

Fill a big wide bowl with warm (not hot) water.

Divide the mizuna, the chicken breast, the carrot (and the mint if you use it) into ten equal portions.

Dip rice paper sheets one by one in the water, immersing them delicately so that you don’t break them.

As soon as the sheet softens (after about ten – twenty seconds), put it onto a big chopping board.

Place first 2/3 of 1 portion of mizuna leaves in the middle, horizontally (at the edge which is closest to you) julienned carrot, a piece of chicken breast, mayonnaise, (chili paste and mint leaves if you choose to do so), cover with the remaining 1/3 of mizuna’s portion. You should aim at approximately 9cm/3,5 in long roll.

Roll tightly starting from the edge which is closest to you.

Proceed in the same way with the remaining rolls.

Serve them immediately as they are or cut in two horizontally with the sesame paste dressing/dip or with a mixture of soy sauce, chili oil and vinegar.

If you wish to serve them later, wrap them individually in cling film because they dry out very quickly.

57 thoughts on “Chicken, Carrot and Mizuna Spring Rolls

  1. I would love to taste these fresh rolls with mizuna which is a very unique green/herb that I’ve never tasted. I ‘ve actually had a harumaki roll with mango inside at the all you can eat sushi place i usually go to. No rice inside and it’s not fried like the harumaki that I’ve seen when I googled HARUMAKI.

    1. Thank you, A_Boleyn. I have seen both fried (but made with another type of wraps) and raw, like these. “Harumaki” or “Spring roll” might mean two things: fried or fresh rolls. Vietnamese version too. Here for example Vietnamese restaurants call these rolls “summer rolls” and “spring rolls” are fried.

  2. I don’t know Sissi, I’m starting to think you have a bit of a green thumb! I’m not sure it’s just the adaptability of mizuna. Remember that really neat planted onion experiment you shared (you know, the no-fail one?) Yup, I managed to kill that one too ;-). I’m a hopeless gardener! Anyway, what an interesting green the mizuna is and it looks so dramatic in the photo – like fingers reaching out from beyond. So cool! I had read once that it was similar to arugula but as you say, milder. I’m curious and I’d love to say that I’d try growing it, but we all know what will happen – lol – and I’ll blame it on my dog! :). I’m a big fan of spring rolls and these look simply lovely Sissi. That’s a good tip about wrapping the leftovers to keep them moist.

    1. Kelly, you are so kind… I absolutely have no green thumb! I have made several cacti die, so I don’t think so 😉 I cannot manage to make many grains sprout this year, but last year they did grow very well… Still don’t know why…
      The onion experiment doesn’t always work. Another blogger or reader told me she hasn’t managed either, so it’s normal. I think it depends on the onion.
      I have placed three very young mizuna leaves this way and now I’m wondering if even the Japanese would recognise it on the photo 😉 If your dog doesn’t eat it, try growing it! It doesn’t require a special humid or hot climate and I hope to harvest it still in autumn (of course I will keep on sowing regularly). Thank you so much for the compliments.

    2. I am very sure that I have never seen or eaten Mizuna before. Peppery mild you are saying? hm, I wonder if I could get that somewhere here, I ll ask a Japanese friend once he comes back after the rains. How does it come that Switzerland sells everything while in Austria you have to hunt down ingredients (and often you don’t find what you want). Take for example surimi. I love the sticks and I have been eating them only in France because they never had those in Austria ( I understand we are not a country next to the sea, but still!)
      Btw I wouldn’t mind giving your spring rolls now a try but I ll have to use maybe rocket instead of mizuna no?

      1. Helene, I have bought my mizuna seeds in Japan 🙂 I haven’t seen them in Switzerland. In France many internet shops sell exotic seeds and even small plants, bulbs etc..
        The French love surimi sticks, it’s true, but I think that in France it’s also difficult to make popular foreign food… Both countries are very attached to their cuisines, aren’t they? On the other hand, the French like learning new cuisines too.
        Yes, try these rolls with any salad you like, but maybe not 100% rocket? It might be too strong… You can mix different leaves too. Good luck!

  3. Yay! Spring rolls! RIce paper rolls are one of my my favourite favourite things to do when the weather gets hotter. It’s so simple, and so convenient and so versatile, but yummy and fresh at the same time! Mizuna adds a nice peppery kick to this, love it. Think the trick to making good rice paper rolls is not stuffing too much at a go or they burst. Something I am not very good at …

    1. Thank you so much, Shuhan. I am not good at neat, equal rolls, so I often “understuff” them (like here) or stuff them with too many things 😉 They still taste good though.

  4. Sissi dearHeart – you really have opened a Pandora’s box here as there are so many variations and permutations! I grow and use both Mibuna and Mizuna, but so many other Asian leafy ‘greens’ would give the same feeling if not quite the same taste! Personally I would give the chicken ‘a big kick in the pants’ with some extra flavour: BUT then, that is just me 🙂 !

    1. Eha, I should have maybe titled this post “you can also do it with mizuna” 😉 When I have a new plant growing on my balcony I want to share even such obvious discoveries about its use… Of course you can replace it with many other leaves, more or less exotic. I wish I had bought mibuna seeds too. My chicken had “the big kick” with the chili paste I have mentioned in the ingredients.

  5. Wow you have a garden!? I get excited when I get to eat something from my garden. (Well, I should say, my hubby’s garden, since he does all the work. lol) It looks like a great spring/summer meal, Sissi! Though I will be having like 10 or so to fill me up. 🙂 I totally agree that anything can go into the rice paper. It’s super versatile.

    1. Thank you so much, Sue. Actually, I only have a small balcony where I’m limited with space, so I grow usually herbs and some salad leaves (I did grow chili once though!). It’s better than nothing, isn’t it?

  6. Looks like a very healthy version of nama (that is, not deep-fried) harumaki!

    Believe it or not, mizuna wasn’t popular in Kanto (Eastern Japan) when I was a child (< 40 years ago); it was only popular in Kansai (Western Japan) then, especially in Kyoto.

    1. Hi, Hiroyuki. I hope it’s not a complaint 😉 Just joking! Whenever I prepare such fresh, not fried rolls and don’t even add noodles, I feel as if I were eating a green salad in a roll. They are quite filling though (I would say I need 4 rolls for a light but full lunch…).
      I have just started reading a very interesting book about countryside Japanese cuisine and customs and learnt that until recently people in the North didn’t know katsuobushi and the Northern dashi was never made with it. One lives and learns… (And I haven’t got yet to the recipes part!! Only the long introduction: half of the book 😉 ).

      1. Until recently? I can’t speak for the credibility of the book, but I can say that katsuobushi was (and still is) rather expensive, and it was not something we could afford every day. You can imagine the discomfort I felt when I read page 30 of Tsuji’s book, which goes like this:
        It is sad, however, to think that more and more young people in Japan will go through their lives never knowing the ineffable falvor of the real home-made dashi their grandmothers used to make. … (omitted) the true dashi that once was the pride of every home. The art of making dashi used to be handed down from mother to daughter and from mother-in-law to daughter-in-law.

        How untrue! It may be true of a small percentage of Japanese who were wealthy enough to afford katsuobushi every day, but how about my family, who used to have niboshi-based miso soup??? I have nothing against Tsuji, but such high-sounding, UNTRUE generalizations really irritate me!

        1. Hiroyuki, I had no idea katsuobushi is expensive. For me it’s not because I don’t use it every day… and food is so expensive in Switzerland anyway 😉 The book was written in the 80s and the man was saying that people in the North not only didn’t use it but many didn’t even know it (This is the book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Folk-Japanese-Country-Cooking/dp/1556430981/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370330546&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=hamma+gaku+folk+japanese; the author is an aikido school founder in the US but apparently he used to own (owns?) a restaurant and used to cook simply as a home cook before, with his mother; the recipes are very simple but very interesting and different: inaka ryori). He gives several dashi recipes, also katsuobushi and konbu, but says he is used to the shiitake and konbu or shiitake alone or niboshi.
          Does Tsuji mean really only the katsuobushi dashi when he says this? I didn’t think him so snobbish 😉 He also gives a niboshi dashi recipe. I tried it and it was a bit too strong when I made a miso soup, but then I’m a European…
          It’s funny because niboshi is quite expensive here, so I had no idea it was a cheaper dashi version. Maybe even more expensive than katsuobushi sold in big bags. I have bought lots of katsuobushi in Japan (it’s not heavy 😉 ).

          1. Thanks for the link. I’m still not quite sure what this man means by “North”. Maybe the Tohoku (lit. east north) region, which includes Sendai, Akita, Aomori, …?

            >Does Tsuji mean really only the katsuobushi dashi when he says this?

            Being a native Japanese, I’m quite positive. Well, I wouldn’t call him snobbish, and you don’t have to be snobbish to make things sound better than they really are. It’s just that some people fall into the trap of using high-sounding remarks when describing their own culture.

            1. He comes from Tohoku (Akita I think), but often talks about North in general… He also talks a lot about home-made dashi a lot… but doesn’t precise which type. On the other hand, he explains that with the city style of living most people simply don’t have time to cook almost anything…

  7. My daughter makes these with letucce and peanut sauce. I can only get mizuna in a special leaf letucce bag. This is the second year I can’t go down to my garden – maybe next year when my knee is fixed. My husband concentrates on the basics; grows letucce, period. His babies are the peppers. He put in 75 plants. 🙂

    1. Zsuzsa, mizuna appears here maybe twice a year (I saw it only in my Japanese shop) and a bunch costs about five times as much as a big salad, so I bought it only once and decided to grow.
      Have you considered raised beds? It’s good for people with back or leg problems and frankly healthier than being bent several hours in the garden…
      I suppose you will be pickling peppers this year 🙂

  8. What pretty spiing rolls! I’ve never heard of mizuna before. I’m going to look for mizuna seeds for my garden next year. Have a wonderful day Sissi!

    1. Thank you so much, Tessa. From what I have read it’s not too late to grow mizuna. It seems very flexible and will apparently grow even in the autumn… I plan sowing regularly every month so that I have it constantly. It’s a very pleasant everyday salad leaf.

  9. You’re a talented cook, you did the jullienne in a same shape and size,
    such a fancy restaurant dish,
    I think this is not my type dish to prepare since i cant handle to not to tear the skin..hehehe
    i had this on vietnam restaurant and they always impressed me with their translucent spring roll wrapper

    1. Thank you, Dedy, for kind compliments, but I would never be able to julienne the carrot so well: I have used a julienne peeler. I am a clumsy and impatient cook (as you see the rolls are far from perfect) but rice paper somehow rolls and clings to itself on its own 😉 Very easy.

  10. Your spring rolls with the sesame dipping sauce are just gorgeous…and the filling ingredients sound refreshing and delicious. I’m not sure I can find mizuna, but I’d love to give it a try 🙂

    1. Thanks a lot, Liz. Mizuna seeds are sold on internet in many countries, but finding it fresh might be difficult.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies (I know they do look clumsy… but they were delicious anyway). I was tempted to put another asparagus recipe (it’s soon over 🙁 ) but something told me not to do so…

  11. I also grow some veggies and herbs on by small balcony and every time something peeks out I am so happy!:D Your summer rolls look delicious and perfect for this time of the year. Love the color and combinations that you used. Well done!

  12. I can’t believe my luck! I have mizuna in my refrigerator plus all other ingredients. I guess I’m going to make this tonight. ThislLooks fantastic always.

    1. Thank you so much, Nipponnin. They are not very equal or neat, but they are delicious and refreshing. I hope you will enjoy them. Try adding a bit of sesame (even if you don’t make the sauce). Somehow it goes great with the carrot (and mizuna!).

  13. Hi Sissi, this is a gorgeous looking spring roll… so stuffed with colour, crunch and flavour. I absolutely love spring rolls. A place near me makes them with shredded chicken inside and shrimp, cut in half, wrapped around the outside, immediately under the wrap layer. It’s a great combo I can recommend. I don’t make these often though – I hate working with those rice sheets. I follow all the advice and instructions and they still end up folding over, sticking together or just being generally impossibly unmanageable! I chalk it up to my man-hands! 😀

    1. Thank you so much, Charles. Rice sheets are really easy to roll much easier than Tunisian brick for example!) but the key is to not oversoak them: otherwise they will be slippery. They just stick on their own, so you don’t have to worry they will fall into pieces (this happens to me often with brick…). Do try making them! They are a wonderful healthy snack, whatever you fill them with. (Oh, and don’t buy them in French supermarkets, but only in Asian shops: these made/labelled in Europe are too thick and really awful; I once had to throw out the whole package and never made the same mistake).

  14. These spring roll are gorgeous and perfect for Spring. They remind me of the ones I always made when my girlfriends and I were in college. 🙂 Hope you’re getting some warmer weather soon.

  15. Sissi, these rolls are absolutely perfect for the warm weather…I love the dipping sauce, it all came so beautiful and lovely combination of flavors.
    Hope you are having a great week my dear 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Juliana. It was the first time I used the sesame paste salad dressing as a dip and it worked miracles! I keep it as one of my favourite spring roll dips.

  16. So pretty, Sissi! I immidately pinned this picture. Looks so fresh and light… I need to eat this everyday to lose my out-of-control weight! I guess I’m the lucky one who can get mizuna from a Japanese market here. 🙂 I love mizuna’s crisp stem. So delicious! I’ll have to check out if the store carries it now. Last time I saw was in winter… I looked for it that time but I haven’t paid attention lately. Awesome recipe!

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. I have it when I feel like (or need!) eating a particularly light meal. It’s also great as a snack when having guests. I bought mizuna only once here: it was expensive (the bunch cost me the equivalent of 3 organic big salads!), already wilted and I decided I would try growing it, so when I went to Tokyo I had mizuna seeds in mind all the time.

  17. J’avais rédigé mon commentaire en anglais et puis j’ai réalisé que tu parlais français !
    Désolée, je pensais passer plus tôt pour te remercier de ta gentille visite sur mon blog, mais je n’ai pas eu trop le temps ces dernières semaines.
    Cette recette me plaît beaucoup, surtout que la mizuna est une herbe dont j’apprécie la saveur (je serais ravie d’en faire pousser chez moi aussi !) mais que je ne sais pas trop comment utiliser. Ces rouleaux de printemps sont une très bonne idée, c’est frais, original et en même temps simple. Merci pour l’inspiration !

    1. Bonjour Helena, merci beaucoup pour ta visite et ton gentil commentaire. Mizuna s’utilise encore plus facilement en salade (je l’utilise avec les tomates ou même seule avec une vinaigrette toute simple!). Elle se prête très bien également à des mélanges avec d’autres salades.

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