Tag Archives: amaranth

Pick Box Week Four

Frog Song Organic gave us another watermelon, red onions, amaranth, lemon basil, Malabar spinach, cucumbers, and okra. Stay tuned for recipes.

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Amaranth in Hot Garlicky Sauce (Suan Ni Xian Cai)*

My new favorite way to cook amaranth leaves. This is another variation on a Fuchsia Dunlop recipe from Land of Plenty.

Amaranth, all ready to go.
Amaranth, all ready to go.

Amaranth can be a somewhat fibrous vegetable, so prepping is well worth the time. Nip off the smallest leaves and set aside. Nip the leaves from the petiole at the base, so that the petiole remains on the stem (not sure about your parts of the leaf? See here.) using a paring knife, strip the petioles from the stem pulling them down the stem so that you remove the petiole and some of the fibers from the stem, just like you would peal a stick of rhubarb. Wash everything thoroughly. Amaranth can be gritty as well. Chop the stems in half inch pieces and roughly chop the leaves. Now you are ready to begin. By the way, this prep is pretty much what I use for any amaranth recipe. Here is the recipe.

 

Amaranth in Hot Garlicky Sauce

  • One bunch of amaranth, prepped as above.
  • Four tablespoons of sweet aromatic soy sauce (fu zhi jiang you).
  • Four tablespoons of chili oil.
  • 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic.
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil.
  • Chopped papalo (or cilantro) for garnish.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In the meantime mix the soy sauce, chili oil, garlic, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Blanch the amaranth for about 3-5 minutes. Test a leaf to check if it is cooked. Strain the amaranth from the water. Thoroughly mix the sauce into the amaranth and place in a serving bowl, sprinkle with the papalo. Serve warm.

image
Front; amaranth in hot and garlicky sauce. Back dried fried beans.

We had this with dry fried yard long beans (gain bian si ji dou) and we just couldn’t resist traditional corn on the cob with lashings of butter, since it was so fresh. So this was an all-CSA meal tonight. The pork in the beans is just a flavoring and the beans are crunchy, the amaranth is very garlicky and somewhat spicy. All in all a great combination. ll washed down with a Vouvray.

* My Chinese is virtually non-existent. So I hope I have this right. Let me know if I need to correct it.

More than we expected this week.

We got more than we expected this week. Amaranth, sweet corn (John threw in a couple of extra ears), sunflowers, sweet onions, sweet peppers, yard long beans, and papalo, but also another gorgeous watermelon and some nice complements on the blog from the good folks at  Frog Song.

That papalo is definitely the most intriguing. I am going to have to do a whole post on that. Anyone have any ideas how to use it?

Clockwise from the sunflowers, sweet corn, sweet onions, papalo, sweet peppers,  amaranth, and watermelon.
Clockwise from the sunflowers, sweet corn, sweet onions, papalo, sweet peppers, yard long beans, amaranth, and watermelon.

The Fish Issue

My favorite thing to do with a bunch of amaranth leaves is to make Jamaican Callaloo. Callaloo seems to be one of those words that is used to mean the soup, the cooked vegetable, and the growing vegetable, at least in Jamaica. Callaloo soup in Trinidad seems to be made with a different plant. I use a a variation of this recipe.
Amaranth grows very well in Florida. Once you have it in the garden, you will never get rid of it and it is a green that will survive the heat and humidity of a Florida summer, so I am not surprised to find it in Frog Song’s CSA box this week.

Here is the recipe that makes enough for four.

Thyme, okra, chopped amaranth stems, coconut milk, chicken broth, crab meat, scotch bonnet pepper, amaranth leaves, onion and garlic. Ready for callaloo.
Thyme, okra, chopped amaranth stems, coconut milk, chicken broth, crab meat, scotch bonnet pepper, amaranth leaves, onion and garlic. Ready for callaloo.
  • One large bunch of amaranth leaves.
  • One onion, sliced.
  • One clove of garlic, sliced.
  • Few sprigs of thyme.
  • Half a dozen okra.
  • Four cups of chicken broth. I like to make my own, but we didn’t have any in the house today.
  • Half a pound of crab meat (more about that later.)
  • One whole scotch bonnet or habanero pepper (I got mine from a friend’s garden.)
  • One cup of coconut milk (I have seen various callaloo recipes with this, but having made the soup with it, I don’t think it adds much to this recipe.

Wash the callaloo thoroughly. It can be one of those gritty greens. Separate the leaves from the stems and chop the stems roughly. Add all the ingredients, except the crab and the okra, to a soup pot and simmer down until cooked through. Perhaps 20 minutes. Remove the scotch bonnet pepper and be very careful to keep it whole. This way it adds great flavor but not intense heat to the soup. If you purée the pepper, watch out! It will be very hot. Strain the solids and place in a food processor and purée. If you prefer a non-puréed texture, strain the solids from the liquid and chop finely. Return to the liquid. Add the crab meat and the chopped okra. Add salt and pepper to taste and heat through. I served it with lovely Olde Hearth whole wheat levain bread.

Jamaican Callaloo.
Jamaican Callaloo.

So the verdict? Bethany likes it, but would prefer better crab. Sam is not so keen. Deborah is too polite to say. I agree, a can of crab from Publix is not a great ingredient, but this is why I titled this post the fish issue. Getting good seafood is a big problem in Central Florida. Wholefoods has some good choices, but they are very expensive. Lombardi’s isn’t great. Publix’s is slightly cheaper, but the quality is not great and you are buying into the global seafood industry (my crab came from the Philippines) with all the problems that come with it; unsustainability, poor labor conditions, and environmental damage. See this interview with Paul Greenberg on NPR’s Fresh Air for more on this issue.

My callaloo would have been great with fresh crab caught from the end of the pier by the kids on a family vacation. But is that the only way to have seafood in my diet? That doesn’t strike me as globally sustainable either. We will return to this issue when I write about our second course.