March 26, 2011

Amaranth or Chinese Spinach( Herng Chai)




Amaranth species are cultivated and consumed as a leaf vegetable in many parts of the world. There are 4 species of Amaranthus documented as cultivated vegetables in eastern Asia: Amaranthus cruentus, Amaranthus blitum, Amaranthus dubius, and Amaranthus tricolor.[12]
In Indonesia and Malaysia, leaf amaranth is called bayam.

I have just found out that the root of a mature amaranth is an excellent vegetable. It is white in colour and is cooked with tomatoes or tamarind gravy. It has a milky taste and is alkaline.

In Sarawak the leaves and stems are used as a stir-fry vegetable, or in soups. We Foochows call it Herng Chai and in Mandarin it called yin choi (苋菜; pinyin: xiàncài; and variations on this transliteration in various dialects). Amaranth greens are believed to help enhance eyesight.

In the olden days the Foochow mothers would purposely grow at lot of the red leaved species when their daughters were having their first periods. As it was recommended by some doctors for people having low red blood cell count. Thus it is also known as a poor widow's iron supplement.

A red dye can be obtained from the flowers  the 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth. (used by the Hopi  - a tribe in the western United States).


A good recipe- Red Amaranth with three different eggs :
1. Get two bundles of this vegetable from the market and clean them well.
2. Boil three different kinds of eggs - 1 century egg , 1 chicken egg and 1 salted egg.
3. Prepare some garlic and boil the veg with three bowls of water (for three persons). Add the chopped eggs into the soup. Boil for a short while. Serve.
A Foochow Recipe from the farm
1. Get two bundles of  red amaranth. Clean and cut into suitable lengths.
2. Prepare some garlic and boil the vegetables with some chicken meat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Add soften enough big mee hoon or Foochow Hoon Ngang to serve a family of five.

The amaranth is an easy vegetable to plant. We used to plant the small leaved ones even along the sides of the road and every one was welcome to pluck them. The green species is nice too.  Our Malay neighbours like to turn them into keropok. ( photo above shows them at the back of the red amaranth).
This is my good sister Hileria's garden patch of green bayam... She is self sufficient in vegetables!!
May God bless her always.

16 comments:

Sunflower said...

Love the red one in soup simply with ikan bilis to flavour, lovely pink soup. I also like yin choi with sambal belacan. Yum yum. So miss this, it's not something I can get over here.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Sunflower...I was worried I might never be able to read your blog again!! Now I am happy...

Yin choi is beautiful. I have taken some more photos from the Jerudong Market...they have Taiwan varieties now...and the smaller pink ones. I had both last night...thanks for visiting. Cheers.

sintaicharles said...

I love the vegetable.

Yan said...

Just love the vegetables. In these two years of away-from-home, that's the vegetables I have never missed to pick up! Stir-fry or the soup - yummy!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Charles...thanks. It is very healthy.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Yan....I love the soup with the hoong ngang.... Brunei has more varieties now. There's one type called Taiwan Herng Chai...smashing!! Just boil for a while and take out....and its very crunchy.

Ah Ngao said...

chop/cut some salted egg white and century egg into small cubes or pieces ,stir fried them with this Hang Choi, make it a bit wet....its nice.

William said...

Learn some new recipe today. My cooking is too plain!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao...thanks for your recipe....Cantonese style?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

William...thanks for visiting....we learn more each day....Have you received the email I sent to your about photo printing?

Ann said...

My mum never did anything special for our periods. Later, I asked her, no fuss, no problem. You never had any problem, so why fuss.

Praise God, I had breezed through at every stage.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann
Usually the tough girls like you and I never fuss over our periods and have problems... Your mum is right...no problem and so no need to fuss.

I believe in roughing it out and we would come up good.

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