Saturday, February 03, 2007

Amaranth or Chinese Spinach Soup

Amaranth or Chinese spinach is a leafy vegetable streaked with red. If you make a soup with amaranth, your soup will look red! But don’t worry. The colour is all natural and is really good for your health.

I always remember this soup because as a child, I’ve often been persuaded to drink it so that I would grow strong like Popeye the Sailor Man! Only when I grew up that I realized Popeye’s spinach and Chinese spinach were totally different!

Amaranth is called ‘een choy’ in Cantonese or ‘bayam’ in Malay. It is good for women particularly as it contains iron for blood-building and folic acid for women who intend to get pregnant.

But amaranth like spinach contains oxalic acid too so it may not be too suitable for those who cannot digest too much oxalic acid. According to Wikipedia, the high content of oxalic acid prevents calcium absorption and this vegetable should not be taken by people with kidney problems, gout or rheumatoid arthritis. Reheating this vegetable is also not encouraged because it turns nitrates into nitrites. However it contains more iron compared to spinach so it should be a good choice for anaemic-prone women.

This vegetable is very useful for children who are constipated or those who have too much Heat in their bodies. Amaranth helps move bowels and clear Heat.

Amaranth soup is a quick soup which can be ready in 20 minutes.

You’ll need:
  • A bunch of fresh amaranth, cut into 1 inch lengths and soaked in water and then drained
  • 1 cup of mince pork (marinate with soya sauce, pepper, cornflour and sesame oil)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (smashed, skins removed)
  • 1.5 liter water
  • Seasoning (salt, pepper, sugar, soya sauce)

In a pot, heat up some oil. Fry garlic until fragrant. Add water and bring to a boil. Using a teaspoon, drop mince pork into the soup to make little dumplings. Let the soup come to a boil again. Add amaranth leaves and stalks. Lower fire and simmer, uncovered for another 10 minutes. Add seasoning and simmer for another 5 minutes. Turn off fire and serve in individual soup bowls.

You can also substitute meat with sliced fish (white fish meat preferred). If you use fish, remember to add a slice of ginger into the soup to get rid of the fishy taste.

Here’s how the vegetable looks like http://www.agric.nsw.gov.au/Hort/Fmrs/Asian_veg/amaranth.htm

Here’s where you can find out about the nutritional content of the amaranth
http://www.prodigyweb.net.mx/centeotlac/eng/pages/valor.htm

Find out more about this vitamin-packed vegetable at http://tinyurl.com/ytaljw

If you’re a big fan of greens (like me), you can find out more about vegetables at http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/vegetables/veg.html
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