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Chinese Spinach Benefits and Recipe (Yin Sai, Edible Amaranth)
Red Leaf Vegetable Amaranth
If you are wondering what to cook for tonight's dinner and looking for a quick and nutritious meal, try the red leaf vegetable amaranth or better known as Chinese Spinach.
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 - higher than soybean, milk, or whole wheat.
Not Suitable for People With Gout
Spinach and this also includes Chinese Spinach, has a high content of oxalic acid. Hence, people with gout and kidney stone should avoid this vegetable.
Chinese Spinach in Traditional Medicine
Besides cooking, the Chinese used this red leaf vegetable amaranth in traditional medicine to heal fractures, as a supplement for heat stroke and for detoxification.
It is also believed to delay the premature graying of hairs. I have not seen or read any documented results yet but if you have success in this area please share your experience by leaving your remarks/observations in the comment section below.
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 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 is good enough reasons to try Chinese Spinach or red leaf vegetable amaranth.
Which Part of Chinese Spinach Can Be Eaten
The leaves and its tender stems are the edible portions.
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.
Chinese Spinach and Almond Salad Recipe
This recipe is a slight variation of the cooking site 'taste of home' version. This adaptation is a combination of Chinese Spinach, almonds, lean chicken and other vegetables.
It takes about 20-minutes to prepare and serves four people.
- 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)
- Combine all the ingredients (vegetables, chicken, and dressing) in a large bowl.
- Toss to mix and combine
- Serve immediately
Recipe for the Sesame-Ginger Salad Dressing
- 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
- Mix thoroughly all the ingredients
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 of 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 serves three people.
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil for stir-frying
- 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon chili paste (reduce amount for the less hot and spicy version)
- 10 ounces fresh Chinese Spinach, washed and dried
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 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 (when 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
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 followings:
- Omelete: Mix chopped onions and finely chopped Chinese Spinach in your omelete
- Soup: Add finely chopped Chinese Spinach to soups or 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
Chinese Spinach Seeds
How to Store Chinese Spinach or Amaranth
Chinese Spinach will quickly go limp after harvesting and to keep it fresh, sprinkle it with water.
If you need to store for a few days, wrap it in a damp paper towel and keep in the fridge vegetable compartment. It can be refrigerated for up to about a week.
But it is best to consume soonest possible to enjoy its nutritional goodness.
How To Grow 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 a pot or plant it outside in a moist, well-drained soil.
If you have Chinese spinach in your garden then during harvesting, cut back about two-inches above ground level. This will leave some of the stems and leaves to assist in regrowth. Red leaf vegetable amaranth or Chinese Spinach can regrow rapidly and this cut-and-grow again method works well.
If you plant from seeds, the seeds must be sown very thinly in the soil. When they sprout, replant them about 3-6 inches apart.
Chinese Spinach is a tropical plant and requires sun and high temperature for rapid growth. Hence, plant them 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 will enjoy them a month after sowing.
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 will help 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.
References and Credits
© 2013 Mazlan