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Philippine Kinchay: Small but Terrible Oriental Herb

Updated on February 9, 2011

Kinchay or Parsley or Celery?

I love this herb—and I mean I LOVE it. If you want your veggie dish delectably Chinesey, Philippine kinchay is it. This small but terrible oriental herb lends a delectably tangy flavor to any dish.

But there seems to be some confusion online about what Philippine kinchay really is. Some say it’s celery, others parsley or coriander or cilantro. I think it’s definitely none of the above. One online article said it was really Chinese parsley and the description came close to what Philippine kinchay is. The write-up called it Khan Choy—probably an earlier term which evolved as kinchay when the herb found its way to Philippine shores long before the Spaniards came to the islands.

Why Small but Terrible Oriental Herb?

It has long slender stems and small green leaves. It fits the role of a best supporting ingredient—like a best supporting actor in Hollywood—not big and intimidating but not negligible either. Philippine kinchay sits just outside the limelight of dish ingredients, but it makes its presence felt.

The stems are super crunchy and exudes a sharp luscious and appetizing tang unmistakably Oriental. It’s like wine at the first sip, or the elusive, initial sweet smack in bitter teas that you keep pursuing after. And the aroma—it’s like the first scent of fresh evergreens in Spring (just convert it to its gastronomical equivalent). Moreover, this Philippine herb is super nutritious and highly recommended for healing and good health. What more can you ask? We’ll deal with the health benefits later.

If you’ve sampled the tasty Chop Suey dish, kinchay is among its flavor lenders. Chop Suey is terribly wanting without it. Sauté any Chinese vegetable with it and you’d never miss the gourmand target. I love sautéing it with sayote, cauliflower, soy tofu, onion leaves, green or red pepper, or carrots. But just put enough or too much of it can also ruin food flavor.


Some say this small but terrible Oriental herb belongs to the family of Apium Graveolens, whatever that is, and had its very first culinary role in the Han Dynasty (about 206 BCE). Other people fondly call it smallage. Somehow, probably in the early and unofficial trade relations of the Philippines and China, it proliferated in the markets of deep Asia and soon became a favorite. So many traditional recipes include Philippine kinchay. Deep Asians love mixing it with meat, fish, and other veggies. But they never mix it with certain veggies though, like eggplant, squash, okra, and certain beans, among others. Oh, and I’ve never seen it mixed with broccoli.

Health and Healing Benefits

And here’s saving best for last. This small but terrible Oriental herb is full of Vitamins and minerals and micro nutrients. Health buffs and otherwise should eat more of it. It’s rich in potassium and iron, Vitamins A, B C, and D, Vitamins B1 and B2, antioxidants, fibers, plus lots of pythochemicals (plant ingredient said to fight artificial chemicals). With this super nutrition, you also get herbal wellness.

If you need healing of any kind, this oriental herb contributes greatly. Along with onion leaves, it’s a good antidote for high blood pressure—and with immediate effect. Just sauté it with garlic and onion leaves in olive oil and eat. Juice it and it’s a potent drink to heal jaundice and fever. Being a diuretic, it promotes normal urination. So, prostate sufferers, take note. And yes, many aver that it helps the body heal cancer.

A diuretic? So it dehydrates you? Not quite. It has properties that enable it to replace lost electrolytes during dehydration. And its bitter-sweet-bitter taste is good for the stomach—strengthens it (like Amplaya does) and gets rid of digestive troubles. Gets rid of rheumatism and scurvy, too.

So, make it a habit to throw in some Philippine Kinchay in your dishes—this small but terrible Oriental herb for health and herbal wellness.


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