This week at the international grocery store they had Taiwan spinach. I love this green! I lack the vocabulary to describe why it meshes so well with my taste buds. I was first introduced to it at a Sunday morning dim sum located in University City. Oh, Lu Lu, how I love your food. Lu Lu Seafood Restaurant makes some killer dim sum. (And they are one of the few places with bubble tea in town.) The ladies come around with the carts instead of a weird buffet thing like many of the restaurants here in the St. Louis area. You never know what is going to come around and be available which is half the fun. The particular dish that introduced me to this green involved steaming the spinach and dressing it with a soy sauce/ sesame oil mixture. Fantastic!
This edible amaranth grows about 14 inches high, but can be higher when flowering. The seeds and greens are edible, but the flowers are not. This is a warm weather crop. Seeds should be germinated in the dark (with a row cover) at about 50 degrees fahrenheit. These plants will not stand frost or freezing. This green likes loose, sandy, and fertile soil. It can’t stand compacted soil so a good cover of straw or frequent hoeing will help it’s growth.
3 Ways to Harvest (about 6-8 weeks):
- Pinch tips and let regrow.
- Pull out whole plant when it reaches about 10 inches.
- Cut plant back to about an inch an a half above the ground to regrow.
This plant can put out a pretty hefty harvest apparently with proper thinning or cutting back.
I like this variety of edible amaranth probably best of all I have tried. It has a really satisfying and hearty taste. It also lacks the bitterness of some of the red tinged cultivars. So here is what we ate tonight (I had no idea what call it):
Chinese Spinach and Mushroom Grits Bake
- 1 1/2 Cups Grits
- 5 TBS oil
- 1 C diced onion
- 2 leeks, finely chopped
- one large king oyster mushroom (half pound)
- 2 TBS dry sherry
- 1 lb Chinese spinach, washed and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 10 fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped
- 1 lb firm tofu, rinsed and patted dry
- 2 TBS lemon juice
- 2 TBS Pinoy Curat Spiced Coconut Vinegar
- 2 tsp sriracha sauce (cock sauce)
- 1 TBS Chinese 5 Spice
- 2 TBS Dark soy sauce with mushroom flavor
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook Grits according to directions and set aside.
- Heat 2 TBS oil in large pan.
- Add the onions, leeks, and mushrooms and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are caramelized. Set aside.
- De glaze the pan with the sherry, add the salt and cook until dry.
- Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
- In a separate skillet, heat remaining oil.
- Add the garlic and basil. Simmer until garlic is golden brown.
- In food processor, add contents of skillet, tofu, lemon juice, Pinoy Curat, sriracha, Chinese 5 spice, and soy sauce. Blend until smooth.
- Add tofu mixture to vegetable mixture.
- In large casserole, layer half of the grits on the bottom. Gently smooth vegetable mixture on top of grits. Top with remaining grits as completely as possible.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- When baking is complete, turn off oven, crack open and let rest in oven to cool for 10 minutes. Serve.
Now that gardening season is creeping ever closer, consider giving this vegetable a try. So good. Why not make a spot in your garden for some new and unusual greens this summer?
and my favorite local seed company: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds