Yin Choy, aka Amaranth Greens

May 18, 2010

“You should try this vegetable. It is very good.” Ken, the owner of Fisgard Market in Victoria’s Chinatown, hands me a bundle of beautiful fuschia-stained leafy greens.  “It’s called yin choy,” he says.

These are really among the most beautiful vegetables I have seen – so visually stunning that they look better suited to a floral arrangement than to a wok. I have already been eyeing them up in the market this spring, dying for an excuse to buy some.

“How do you cook it?” I ask.

Ken breaks into a huge smile. “I don’t know. My wife doesn’t cook! All I know is that it is a very delicious vegetable.”

That is how I ended up with a bag of yin choy at home with no idea what to do with it. No excuse necessary after all, just a sincere endorsement of deliciousness.

After some thought, I decided to try the yin choy out in one of my favourite recipes, Thai Stir Fried Greens. However, that was not a random decision. I did have one leg up on the whole yin choy situation, since I already knew the English name: fresh amaranth greens. (Thank my avidly-gardening mother for that one. She grows amaranth.)

I have always known that amaranth greens are edible, but have never tried them.  I think the boutique health-foodiness of the idea bored me. But I am excited by the disovery that amaranth greens are a popular Asian vegetable, too. Give a vegetable a slick Asian name, and it is suddenly way cool.

So, the results of my cook-off: Yin choy is delcious. It tastes sweet and mineral-ish, like spinach, but with less acid, less mouth-drying-factor. It cooks up tender, but not slimy. Really, it is a perfect springtime green vegetable – fresh, tender, sweet. I cooked it a little longer than I would cook spinach (yin choy has tough stems), but less than I would a tougher green such as kale.  The only fly in my ointment is that the colour doesn’t stay. Rating: I will definietly be buying these again!

Thai Greens recipe will be posted tomorrow.

Comments (4)

  1. The all-green version is called Callaloo in the Caribbean. I have been using Yin Choy for awhile as a substitute, because most of the red fades anyway. Fry it up with onions and tomato…it’s definitely delicious and tender! And quite nutritious, especially since it has no oxalic acid like spinach. I also grow an all-burgundy variety from Vietnam that is gorgeous. But most seed companies that sell Amaranth have varieties that are selected for the seeds, and the leaves are slightly less tender.

  2. So happy to find your post. I’m standing in Fairway Market, and I’m going to give Yin Choi a try! Thanks :)

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