January 26th, 2013 | 2 Comments
Have you been wondering what that beautiful purple and green leafy vegetable is in the shops at the moment?
I’d hate for you to miss out so I thought I’d better get these photos up quick smart before it all disappears. The season’s quite short, and you may have to go to an Asian shop to find it, but it’s called yin tsai* or amaranth or “edible amaranth” as some sources call it. Don’t worry. Everything on my blog is edible, I assure you. The flavour is not grassy like a lettuce or even a spinach, but more somehow deeper green without being green tasting. OK, I’m admitting defeat on the flavour descriptor because I know that makes no sense, but I can tell you that it is very delicious. It does have a slightly slippery mouthfeel once fried, but not nearly as slippery as okra, for example, so I do believe most people can handle it. I like to stirfry it with just a touch or fish sauce or soy sauce and perhaps throw in a bit of garlic if you are feeling cheeky. It really doesn’t need much.
The important thing to remember about this leaf is that it will wilt very quickly, so buy it on the day you plan to use it if at all possible. I usually chuck a wet paper towel in the bag near the stems before closing it up if I want it to last until the evening meal, but sometimes even that is not enough. It’s a very sensitive leaf! So, when it comes time to prepare and you find a wilted mess in your fridge, just pretend you don’t see that it is being naughty and nip all the leaves off the stems like nothing is wrong whatsoever. Then, before the plant can notice, stick all of these leaves, stem end down, into a large bowl of cold water as if you are making a beautiful bouquet. It won’t look like much, but when you come back after an hour or more, there they are! The leaves are all standing up and happy and ready for you to fry them. They never knew what hit them. Oh, and watch out for the red juice that gets on everything once you fry the greens.
Let me know if you try it for the first time. I’d love to know what you think. Or if it is something you regularly eat, how do you prepare yours?
*Also yen chai or xian cai and rau dên in Vietnamese or pak khom in Thai