Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sweet and Sour Watercress

I have been involved with the final, final edits of my book and also writing an article this week so my eyes are really tired from all that computer work and my liver is getting worn out too. That means it's time for some spring tonics and to the Chinese, that means eating the greens that are just starting to emerge. One of the earliest is watercress.  And, yes it really does grow in water. Now, this is not a very popular vegetable and I have no idea why - it's wonderful and so incredibly good for you. It has proven anti- cancer properties, is full of Vitamin C, A, B and K. It contains important trace minerals and most importantly - it tastes great! You can use it in salads or in special English tea sandwiches with butter or cream cheese, but my mother used to make watercress with a lovely sweet and sour sauce - basically  a combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar.  

As kids, my sisters and I would fight over the crusty rice that lined the sides of the rice pot, just so we did dip the rice in the Watercress sauce.  So I am giving you her recipe today - it's also my son Stephen's favorite vegetable dish.  It's very easy to make and you will be giving your liver and your eyesight lots of support.  It cooks down to a small amount so make sure to cook enough.  And it makes a lot of sauce as the Watercress wilts and softens the salty and sour flavors of the sauce. Two big bunches only made enough for Stephen and me so if we were having anybody else over to eat, I would have had to buy a few bunches more.  The only sad thing is that my rice cooker doesn't make crispy rice. By the way, this dish is even good cold. So next time I make it, I am going to put some rice in a think layer on a baking sheet in the oven and crisp it up and get ready to dip in once again!  I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do.

Sweet and Sour Watercress

2 big bunches of Watercress, washed
2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari
2 Tablespoons Seasoned Rice Vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar

Pinch the small stems that the leaves are on and discard the large stem pieces.  Place in a colander. Mix the Soy Sauce or Tamari, Rice Vinegar and sugar in a small bowl.

Heat a wok on the stove and add in the oil.  Heat the oil until smoking.  Rinse the Watercress under water for just a minute and then toss into the wok - it should sizzle a lot!  Stir fry the Watercress with the spatula until it is wilted.  Pour in the sauce and let it cook, stirring until the sauce boils.  Put into a bowl and serve.

Five Element Analysis

Watercress is a green vegetable and so belongs to the Wood Element and the rice wine vinegar adds even more.  So this is basically a Wood dish. However, Watercress does have a peppery bite that gives it a bit of Fire too.  The Soy Sauce (or Tamari) brings in some of the Water Element and the sugar contributes a little of the Earth Element. There is a little more balance in this dish than you would expect, but it is clearly meant to be eaten as part of a meal to create a Five Element balance.

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