Chinese Spinach (Yin Sai, Edible Amaranth) Benefits and Recipe

If you are wondering what to cook for tonight's dinner and looking for a quick and nutritious meal, try Chinese Spinach.

Chinese Spinach (bayam merah) with its distinctive red and green colored leaves. Chinese Spinach is always confused with water spinach (kangkong)
Chinese Spinach (bayam merah) with its distinctive red and green colored leaves. Chinese Spinach is always confused with water spinach (kangkong) | Source

Chinese Spinach or Amaranth

This long stalked red/green leaf vegetable is one of the most nutritious and is rich in vitamins A, B and C, protein, magnesium, iron and calcium. It has twice the amount of iron compared to regular Spinach. It is also an excellent source of dietary fiber.

100-gram of Chinese Spinach will give you:

  • over 3,800 international units of Vitamin A, which is more than three times the daily requirement of an adult.
  • 50 mg of vitamin C
  • 2.5 mg of Iron
  • 168 mg of Calcium
  • 20% Protein; its protein content is even higher than soybean, milk, or whole wheat.

Spinach, and this also includes Chinese Spinach, has high content of oxalic acid. Hence, people who have gout and kidney stone should avoid this vegetable.

Chinese Spinach in Traditional Medicine

Besides using it in their cooking, the Chinese used them in traditional medicine to heal fractures, as supplement for heat stroke and for detoxification.

Some people believed it would help prevent the premature graying of hair. However, I have not seen or read any documented results yet. If you have success in this area please share your experience by leaving your remarks/observations in the comment section below.

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Chinese Spinach, in Other Languages

Chinese spinach is also known as Bayam Merah (Malaysia/Indonesia), Yin Sai, Yeen Choy, Xian Cai (Chinese), Calaloo (Caribean), Hi-yu-na (Japan), Klaroen (Surinam), Phak khom (Thailand), Kulitis (the Philippines) and Amaranth or Amaranthus leaf.

Chinese Spinach Taste and Uses

Chinese Spinach with its sweet & tangy taste makes a great salad ingredient and a nutritious meal when steam, stir-fry or sauté. In some recipes, you will find Chinese Spinach mixed with fish or meat dishes.

It can be used like normal spinach and hence can be substituted in any of your favorite spinach recipes. As it cooks faster than normal spinach, take care not to overcook it.

It is inexpensive and easily available in most markets and are good enough reasons for you to try Chinese Spinach or Amaranth.

Which Part of Chinese Spinach can be Eaten

The leaves and its tender stems are the edible portion.

In some other varieties of amaranths, they are grown and harvested for their seeds.

These seeds are eaten as grains and because of its high nutritional value and cheap production cost, it is now claimed to be the crop of the future.

How to Clean Chinese Spinach

Cleaning Chinese Spinach is easy and straightforward. Just wash it thoroughly to remove any dirt. If your Chinese Spinach came with the roots, remove them by chopping off about 2-inches above the root area, before washing.

Leave it in a colander placed over a sink for several minutes, to dry. Alternatively, pat the leaves dry with kitchen or paper towel.

Chinese Spinach Recipe

Try the following quick and easy recipes using Chinese Spinach and enjoy its nutritional goodness.

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Chinese Spinach and Almond Salad
Chinese Spinach and Almond Salad | Source

Chinese Spinach and Almond Salad Recipe

This recipe is a slight variation to the version on taste of home website. This adaptation is a combination of Chinese Spinach, almonds, lean chicken and other nutritious vegetables.

It takes about 20-minutes to prepare and will serve four people.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces Chinese Spinach, washed and drained to dry
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, washed, drained to dry and tail removed
  • 2 medium sized carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, (toasted)
  • 1/2 cup sesame ginger salad dressing, (see recipe for this dressing below)

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients (vegetables, chicken, and dressing) in a large bowl.
  2. Toss to mix and combine
  3. Serve immediately

Recipe for the Sesame-Ginger Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons lite soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Preparation:

  • Mix thoroughly all the ingredients

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Chinese Spinach or Amaranth Stir-fry with Garlic

Chinese Spinach, when you stir-fried with garlic, is another easy and quick recipe for you to try.

Just remember not to overcook as you will lose its nutritional content.

There are several versions to Chinese Spinach stir-fried with garlic recipe. This version is taken from chinesefood.about.com website and is quick, easy and tasty. I have replaced spinach with Chinese Spinach for this version.

It takes about 20-minutes to prepare and will serve three people.

Stir fry Chinese Spinach or Amaranth with Garlic
Stir fry Chinese Spinach or Amaranth with Garlic | Source

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil for stir-frying
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili paste (reduce amount if you cannot take hot/spicy food
  • 10 ounces fresh Chinese Spinach, washed and dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • Preheat wok
  • Then add cooking oil
  • When oil is hot, add chili paste, finely minced garlic, and salt.
  • Stir for a few seconds until chili paste is thoroughly cooked (cooking oil turned red from the chili paste color)
  • Then add Chinese Spinach and stir for about 1 to 2 minutes
  • When the leaves are almost wilted, add in the sesame oil and sugar
  • Sprinkle the cooked Chinese Spinach with black pepper
  • Serve immediately

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You can use Chinese Spinach in your favorite Vegetable Lasagna recipe
You can use Chinese Spinach in your favorite Vegetable Lasagna recipe | Source

More Ideas on How to Use Chinese Spinach in Your Cooking

As mentioned earlier, you can replace spinach with Chinese Spinach in most recipes. You can also do the following:

  • Omelete: Mix chopped onions and finely chopped Chinese Spinach in your omelete
  • Soup: Add finely chopped Chinese Spinach to soups or even stews for added nutritional lift
  • Pasta: Chopped and steamed Chinese Spinach and add it your Pasta sauce
  • Lasagna: You can also mix it with basil, parsley, oregano, garlic and tomato paste. Use this concoction as one of the layers in your lasagna recipe

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Chinese Spinach Seed

Chinese Spinach seeds are edible and have a large amount of protein and essential amino acids.

Regular consumption of this seed may help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. It will also improve the antioxidant level and boost your immunity level.

How to Store Chinese Spinach or Amaranth

Chinese Spinach will quickly go limp after being picked and to keep it fresh, sprinkle it with water.

If you need to store it for a few days, wrap it in a damp paper towel and keep them in the fridge vegetable compartment. It can be refrigerated for up to about a week.

However, it is best to consume it as soon as possible to enjoy its nutritional goodness.

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Planting Chinese Spinanch: Cut about 2-inches from the root section and place it in your pot or plant outside
Planting Chinese Spinanch: Cut about 2-inches from the root section and place it in your pot or plant outside | Source

Growing Chinese Spinach

If you buy Chinese Spinach that came with the roots, then plant them by the cut-and-grow-again method. Chop about 2-inches above the root section and placed it in the pot or plant it outside in a moist, well-drained soil.

If you have planted Chinese spinach in your garden, then during harvesting, cut back about two-inches above ground level. This will leave some of the stem and leaves to assist in regrowth. Amaranth or Chinese Spinach can regrow rapidly and this cut-and-grow again method works well.

If you plant from seeds, then the seeds should be sown very thinly on soil. When they sprout, plant them about 3-6 inches apart.

Chinese Spinach is a tropical plant and requires sun and high temperature for rapid growth. Hence, you need to find area in your garden that receives the most sunlight.

The soil must be light, sandy, well-drained and of course fertile. They must be well watered and being a fast growing plant, you get to enjoy them only a month after sowing.

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My Other Articles on Healthy Fruits and Plants

If you have gray hair and concerned about hair growth, the Mulberry juice might just be your answer. Read more at Health Benefits of Mulberry.

Read the controversial vitamin B17 that can help people with cancer at Health Benefits of Apricot Seed or Kernel

Pomegranate Health Benefits will highlight the various benefits including its function at slowing Alzheimer's disease.

Pomegranate Vinegar on the other hand will help to lower the blood pressure and cholesterol and levels.

Dates Vinegar can help women with menstrual disorders.

If you suffer from thyroid then read on how to control it at Sweetsop or Sugar Apple article.

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References and Credits

© 2013 Mazlan

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Comments 5 comments

greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 3 years ago from Malaysia Author

Om, you are not the only person that hates the slimy taste. Unfortunately, the goodness is in that slimy stuff!!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago

Nice hub! I'm quite familiar with Chinese spinach and find it to be slightly slimy (a little too slimy for my liking). So I personally prefer stir-frying it rather than eating it raw in a salad. Thanks for the recipes and tips on how to use it in cooking. I'll try putting it in my omelet next time! :)


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

Great idea! There is a T & T supermarket not too far from my place. I never think to go there because I can find a lot of the ingredients I use closer from home..... but I will definitely try that one!

Thank you for suggesting that.


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 3 years ago from Malaysia Author

kidscrafts, you can find Chinese Spinach in Asian grocery stores or in Chinatown in Ottawa. Let me know if you have problem. Thanks for dropping by and appreciate your input and contributions.


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

I never saw Chinese spinash before! It looks good and tempting!

Thank you for sharing your recipes! It looks very delicious!

Enjoy your weekend!

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