Chicken and Myoga Skewers with Wasabi


Myoga will always have a special place in my heart because I fell under its spell during the first meal I had in Japan. Actually I ordered it accidentally in Morimoto, a fabulous Tokyo izakaya (a pub where food is served) specialising in skewers. I absolutely wanted to taste there the famous Japanese rare chicken breasts and these were skewered with myoga, then brushed with wasabi. I was obviously concentrated on the half-raw breasts, which proved extraordinarily tender and juicy, but myoga was a flavoursome bonus I didn’t expect at all. It was a perfect company for delicate chicken breasts and its combination with wasabi was a successful mixture of bold flavours and scents. I didn’t even dream that day being able to reproduce anything similar at home.

If you have never heard about myoga (茗荷), it’s a plant belonging to the ginger family (Zingiber mioga) and what you see above are its edible flower buds, which at first sight might be similar to French shallots (at least when skewered and grilled, served in a dark izakaya!). Myoga is popular in both Japan and Korea and, according to Wikipedia, its shoots are also eaten but I haven’t had the chance to taste them yet. Myoga buds can be eaten raw (shredded on rice or on tofu, as advised me Nami from Just One Cookbook, served in vegetarian sushi, according to Shizuoka Gourmet), but they are also excellent grilled and absolutely amazing when pickled. Myoga has a rather strong and complex aroma, but the flavour is surprisingly delicate. When pickled, it becomes bolder in taste and so irresistible, I could have pickled myoga every day with every single meal.

I have learnt at Shizuoka Gourmet blog that myoga contains vitamins B1, B2 and B6, helps stamina, digestion and is known in Japan since the IIIrd century as a medical plant. Combined with different food products it is said to prevent cancer, kidney diseases or combat ageing… In short, it’s a wonder food.

I regretted a lot I hadn’t brought any fresh myoga with me, so imagine my joy when I saw fresh myoga sold in my Japanese grocery shop! I didn’t even look at the price (luckily!) and snatched the last remaining bag. The humble-looking skewers you see above are my attempt to copy the excellent chicken skewers I had in Morimoto (of course I didn’t try to serve my chicken rare!; unless you live in Japan and have access to specially bred chickens, do not attempt it). Even though the skewers didn’t taste half as good as in Morimoto, I brushed them with freshly grated wasabi brought from Japan and it was one of the best meals I have ever had in my life. If you ever stumble upon myoga, I advise these skewers with a glass of good shochu on the rocks.

Talking about, wasabi, I have good news for those lucky people who live in UK! I have recently discovered the existence of Wasabi Company which grows… wasabi and which is located in Dorchester. They sell even single wasabi roots. Click here to see their website.

TIPS: If you have a garden you can try growing myoga which is apparently very resistant to low temperatures and easy to grow. I plan buying it next year and growing it on my balcony.

I don’t have a real grill, so I grilled these skewers (like most of my skewers) on a grill pan.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (for ten skewers):

2 chicken breasts skinned

10 myoga buds



(oil for the grill pan)

Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.

Cut the myoga buds in two vertically.

Skewer both ingredients, putting two myoga halves per skewer.

Season with salt.

(Brush the grill pan, if you use it, with oil and heat it.)

Grill on both sides until the meat is done. (If you use a grill pan, cover it when you grill the first side of skewers. When you turn them, grill without covering).

Served brushed with wasabi.



49 Replies to “Chicken and Myoga Skewers with Wasabi”

  1. You totally sold me on myoga! I don’t think I’ve come across myoga before, and it will be forever engrave in my mind to look out for myoga in Japanese stores. Oh I’m so envious of your trip to Japan, I’ve been wanting to go for the longest time. Hope I get to go soon..

    1. Thanks a lot, Shannon. If I had them in Switzerland, I think they are (in theory) possible to find in other countries too. I hope you will be lucky. I’m sure you will not be disappointed when you finally go to Japan.

  2. This looks amazing! I am so interested in findind some myoga! I am already growing ginger, turmeric, and bamboo in my back yard. Maybe I should try to grow wasabi too! 🙂 I will be on the lookout. I too have a vivit to Japan top of my wish list! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Lyndsey. I am amazed by all the exotic plants you grow. Apparently myoga is every easy to grow, but wasabi is considered very difficult (it needs very specific growing conditions), but you should try. One never knows!

  3. Sissi, what an interesting post! I have never seen Myoga before, let alone taste it. Your Japanese trip must have been amazing, to tell you the truth I probably would not have ordered raw chicken, because I am less adventurous than you. Though Myoga sounds very interesting, hopefully the little Japanese store carries it the next time I shop there so I can get a taste for myself…

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you so much, Jeno. I think I was very pragmatic: Japan is a developed country (even very well developed), the izakaya has been serving these chicken breasts for years (it wasn’t just any izakaya, but one recommended in a cookery book I love), chickens are brought in special hygienic conditions, clients have been eating them for years, so what did I risk? The only thing I was worried about was the taste and texture, but they were perfect. I hope you can taste myoga soon. Have a lovely weekend too.

  4. Thank you for the introduction to this new veggie and the information as to the various ways it can be added to a Japanese meal. Rare chicken isn’t something I’d be tempted to try either, regardless of its popularity in Japanese pubs. 🙂

    1. Thank you, A_Boleyn. As I have just told Jeno, I didn’t risk anything in a renowned izakaya which serves specially bred chicken for years and since I was very curious, I thought the only risk I was taking was taste and texture of just one skewer (I actually had 5 portions because they were extraordinary! so it was worth risking). Actually such rare chicken meat is not popular. Places serving them are very rare because such chickens are rare and expensive. I know even some Japanese people who don’t know about rare chicken breasts.

  5. Hi Sissi. This is interesting. I’ve seen myoga in our Japanese stores and have just taken them for granted as our Malaysian torch ginger. I googled it and it really is similar, same family and probably having the same wonderful fragrance. I have 3 troughfuls of them in my garden, thoroughly neglected and buds all opened into blooms. We use them unpickled in some of our sour/non coconut milk curries. I love eating them more than the meats or fish that’s in the curry 🙂
    And we do also use them shredded in our salads.
    How amazing that the Japanese pickle them. Maybe I should do so for those that I can’t use up fast enough.

    1. Thank you, Ping. I had no idea there was something called “torch ginger”. Lucky you!!! Can I come and help you with pickling? Or eating them? 😉 If one day I stumble upon some cheaper myoga, I will ask you a sour curry recipe which would go with it. It must taste heavenly.
      I have found here a pickled myoga recipe茗荷-one-of-japans-distinctive-flavors-from-summer-through-autumn/ and here a very simple Shizuoka Gourmet’s recipe
      I am so jealous!

      1. Thanks for the links, Sissi! I’m running over to check them out now! So excited!
        I’m thinking I should cook the curry and post it one of these days. Hope you’re into spicy.

        1. I hope you will like the pickles! Please tell me if you liked them (if you make them of course).
          Me? Spicy???? I love hot food! I am addicted to all types of chili, we both love hot food with my husband. From time to time I love having a meal which is so hot, I cry. When I go to see my family in France for several days and am not sure if they have hot chili or anything hot (sometimes they don’t), just in case I take some gochujang in a jar and some dried hot peppers (this will give you an idea about my addiction…).

  6. I’ve never heard of Myoga nor have I seen one before. So glad to always visit your site because I’m not only seeing beautiful dishes, I also learn something new each time. Thank you, Sissi! Have a lovely weekend. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Ray, for kind words and compliments. These skewers didn’t look as beautiful as I would have wished, but the taste was extraordinary. Have a lovely weekend too.

  7. I can always count on you to amaze me, Sissi! I have never heard of this vegetable but it is indeed intriguing. I agree with Mr. Three-Cookies that it does look like a smaller banana flower.
    I am surprised that you were allowed to bring back fresh wasabi root, we are not allowed to (particularly to or from the US). One time we were driving down to Chicago and the stupid guard threw out our apples because he didn’t know if they were American or Canadian (likely came from California but I had removed the sticker when I washed it!).

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. I can assure you you amaze me more often 🙂
      I have no idea if I’m allowed and prefer not to know 😉 I know however that Europe is far from being as strict as North America about food (for example I have received a big box of Japanese products from my Japanese friend, including miso, dried fish etc., described in details and there was no problem at all). Your story confirms the stories we hear in Europe about customs officers in the US.

  8. Sissi, I love to come to your site to read your food journey. It is really a journey of your foodie life! You don’t fail to explain half way (like I do and get questions) and you explained not only the food you are eating, but history (sometimes), texture, fragrance… it’s like a science lab! I’m talking this as very positive way. I think that’s why a lot of us like to come here, despite you use very unique ingredient like myoga.

    Did you know all the wasabi in the US are food colored horseradish? You are lucky to use REAL wasabi, not horseradish with hot mustard in it!! 😉

    1. Thank you, Nami for all the compliments. I am often worried that I bore my visitors with detailed explanations, so it makes me happy to learn you like them. Here of course the only wasabi we get is the fake one, in a tube. I was thrilled when I saw the “master” grating the wasabi to put on my sasami skewers! I realise only know how bringing both the wasabi and yuzu has made my Japan trip last a bit longer 😉 Next time I will bring more fresh stuff.

  9. Hi Sissi – when you say “rare chicken breasts”… are you referring to the method of cooking (as in… cooked “rare”) or the availability of them. The latter sounds very enticing, the former… hehe, not so much, but I presume they must be delicious if they have such a reputation!

    I’ve never heard of myoga – I don’t recall having it in Japan. What an interesting sounding ingredient, and it looks so lovely in the bowl… reminds me of a load of peeled shallots! I bet it gives a lovely taste to the chicken on the skewer… I wonder how well it would go with salmon? Did you have any problems finding it in Europe?

    1. Hi, Charles. As I explain at the beginning yes these were half-raw breasts and they were the best chicken meat I have ever had. I think that if I hadn’t seen rare chicken breasts lots of time on Shizuoka Gourmet’s blog, I don’t know if I would taste it. Robert-Gilles was so enthusiastic every time he ate this Japanese specialty (I have also put a link two posts ago to his post about a special chicken farm, where chickens are bred for rare breasts). I know you don’t like chicken, so I don’t encourage you to taste it, but I encourage everyone who loves chicken. It’s a unique experience and possible only in Japan (this is why I took five servings probably beating the record there!). Other chicken skewers were normal, the meat was well cooked (and also cheaper I think, but my Japanese food adventures were so cheap compared to Switzerland or France…).
      Charles, I’m one of the rare people who don’t like salmon… so I cannot tell you, but in general I don’t think myoga would go well with fish. (Or maybe I’m wrong).
      I went to my grocery shop to buy shochu, I asked for myoga and got the last package. I suppose it might be available in Paris too.

      1. Hi Sissi, I do apologise… I must have been so shocked at the thought of rare chicken that I somehow skipped the rest of the paragraph and moved onto the delightful photo of the myoga!

        1. Charles, you don’t need to apologise! I also don’t notice or forget things even when I read whole posts. Moreover, it’s my fault: I should have insisted more on the half-raw/rare chicken in this post because you are not the only one who asked! (On the other hand I don’t want to encourage anyone to make it!).

  10. Wow… I am always learning new and wonderful things on your blog Sissi! I have never come across myoga to my knowledge (though I’m going to be looking out for it now for sure!) – how incredible that you were able to find fresh myoga at your Japanese grocer… that’s what I was wondering as I read your post… had you brought them back from Japan. I like the idea of ‘brushed’ wasabi… allowing you to easily control and distribute the amount – I like just a touch (a little goes a long way in my books ;-)) but my husband likes to slather it on. How neat that you were able to mimic this delicious looking chicken meal with myoga… very beautiful looking too!

    p.s. was the chicken really rare?!

    1. Thank you very much, Kelly. If you have a garden you might try growing myoga next year. I have heard it’s very easy and stands well low temperatures. I think I was lucky, but they said they had it regularly (not all the time though). Haha! Now looking at my skewers I’m not sure if I used a tiny amount or rather a huge pile of wasabi. I was so excited to have the real fresh root, I went crazy.
      Yes, in Japan they breed some chickens in a special, very strict-hygiene way (look at Shizuoka Gourmet’s blog if you are interested They are more expensive and breast can be eaten rare, a bit like lamb. I tried such a skewer because Robert-Gilles’s enthusiasm every time he had such breasts in a restaurant (Shizuoka Gourmet’s author), but was afraid the taste would be weird. (I was confident about the health issues, though. It was Japan, not… ok, I will not cite the country where one gets ill with a simple glass of water 😉 ). The taste was extraordinary and the texture was soft, delicate… As I told CHarles, I took it five times! (I think I was very hungry after more than 20 hours of travelling).

  11. There are many people in Japan who hate myoga. I won’t say I hate myoga (I hated them when I was a child), but just a few buds are enough for me.

    Here is a well-known superstition in Japan related to myoga: Eating (too much) myoga makes you forgetful. Don’t worry, that’s false.

    As you may know, almost all wasabi consumed at home and in restaurants in Japan is fake (horseradish plus some coloring agent). Some products claim they contain some real wasabi, though.

    Because we are so accustomed to fake wasabi, when I tasted real wasabi for the first time in my life in my twenties, I really wasn’t fascinated by it because of its earthy flavor.

    1. Hi Hiroyuki, I had no idea, but since myoga has a strong fragrance, I can understand it well. Unfortunately myoga is so expensive here that unless I grow it on my balcony next year, I will never be able to check if the superstition is real 😉
      I know about wasabi… The first day we had excellent skewers with real wasabi and then we went to several other izakayas serving good but not so excellent skewers and the wasabi was always the false stuff we buy here in tubes too.
      When I tasted the real wasabi, I didn’t taste the earthy flavour… I thought it was stronger than the false one and somehow “lighter” and more subtle in spite of being stronger. Do you still dislike real wasabi?

      1. I don’t dislike real wasabi, but it’s way too expensive for regular consumption (300-500 yen per root).

        One possible origin of the superstition is that there was a disciple of Buddha who was very forgetful (forgot even his name!), and after he died, myoga grew from his grave.

        One thing you should know about myoga is that, unlike those of shoga (ginger), the fragrant components of myoga are highly volatile, so it should be avoided to heat it too much.

        1. I must visit your city for food shopping next time! You know, prices in Switzerland are so high I would consider 500 yens cheap for a wasabi root (I paid 1050 yens for mine in Tokyo but I didn’t think it was expensive…). In general, comparing restaurant prices to Switzerland and France, going out in Tokyo was really cheap. Thank you for the myoga superstition explanation. I admit it smelled stronger when quickly grilled in Japan than longer grilled here, but it was still delicious for me.

            1. Mine was from Shizuoka indeed (I have compared kanji on the package because Robert-Gilles from Shizuoka Gourmet blog suggested it), but I’m sure I would love the Niigata wasabi as much!

  12. Those myoga buds look beautiful! I’ve never heard of myoga and have no idea if the Asian market here carries them or not, but I will be looking. Once again, you have me curious as to the flavor and texture for that matter. Wasabi I know and wasabi I love! Beautiful little grilled kabob!

    1. Thank you very much, MJ. Some gardening shops might sell myoga bulbs, so you could grow it (it looks beautiful when flowers open, in case you don’t like the taste 😉 ).

  13. Thanks for introducing us to yet another new ingredient, myoga! I haven’t heard of it before so I’ll definitely have to look out for them when i next visit the Japanese supermarket.

  14. Myoga is new to me, no doubt! Maybe I had read it somewhere before, most probably on namis blog. I doubt they will sell it here, but we have a european trader who started to go to Japan and improrts local products from there to goa, so I ll ask them if they can get it and how much it would come to.

    I am curious what the growing process is like. Please share with us the experience in spring Sissi!

    any idea what plant family it might be? If I understand it correctly it will be mostly grown in the northern parts in Japan (the south is more hot, right?). I wish I could get to taste your skewers now, I want to know what the Myoga tastes like!

    1. Thank you, Helene. Myoga latin name is Zingiber mioga, it’s from the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) and I’m sure you can grow it easily in Goa. It’s resistant to cold but I don’t think it’s very demanding otherwise…

  15. I would seriously love to check in our local Asian market that carries Asian fresh veggies, as well to find out if they have Myoga buds. Very exotic, and totally different from our local produce. Love your chicken skewers…very delicious, and superb recipe!

    1. Thank you, Elisabeth. It is very exotic indeed. The taste is very unusual too (but I was told that many Japanese people dislike myoga).

    1. Thank you so much, Robert-Gilles. I sometimes eat such weird things (from the European point of view) that I wonder how many Europeans have had this particular dish at home this month… It was so quick and easy, I would prepare it every week if I had wasabi root and myoga.

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