Chinese cooking and more

Nhu Nguyen
Mon, 06 Oct 2008 18:06:53 PDT
Hi Dell and all,

*Ipomoea aquatica* is an important vegetable in Vietnam where I was born. It
is eaten widely by the poor because the plants grow vigorously in waterways.
In some poor villages, it makes up the bulk of vegetable/foodstuff consumed.
There are some nutrients like important vitamins that one can extract by
eating these plants. They are both eaten raw and cooked. Raw *I.
aquatica*has a very crispy texture and distinctive flavor. However,
there is fear
that the milky latex contain toxins and the plants have been shown to
accumulate toxic by products of biological activities such as waste/sewage
treatment. Another fear is that eating the raw tissue will give you an
intestinal fluke parasite called Fasciolopsis. It is common where pigs are
raised. The flukes will encyst on aquatic vegetation, waiting for the next
animal that chomps on those leaves. In the US it seems to be an invasive
weed where it is warm and wet.

*Houttuynia cordata* is also eaten in southern Vietnam, but only the leaves
not rhizomes. The smell is very distinctive and to me it's quite different
from cilantro. It serves as an important herb condiment along with mint and
Thai basil in Vietnamese cuisine. It has an interesting property of
partially preventing the blood from clothing. Herbalists take advantage of
this property and prescribe it for certain ailments. During war-time,
soldiers must be very careful to not eat these plants, which I'm told is
hard for some because it makes up an important part of the cuisine. I have
too made the mistake of planting these in the ground. The rhizomes go very
deep and you must dig very deep down and get every.single.piece in order to
get rid of the plant.

*Allium tricoccum* is cultivated in many parts of the country and is
celebrated with it's own festival. It is native to the eastern US and
probably need a cold winter dormancy. I would like to grow it here in the
mild climate of central CA but have not been brave enough to try. Has anyone
tried growing it in wild climates? It is sold here in the spring and is one
of those items that dissappear quickly from the grocery special produce

Thanks for these fascinating topics.

Berkeley, CA, USA

On Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 3:28 PM, Dell Sherk <> wrote:

> Dear Jim and Tsuh Yang,
> I have grown water spinach, Ipomoea aquatica, in the vegetable garden, so
> it
> doesn't need a lot of water. I have always been confused by reports that
> "morning glories" are poisonous.
> Houttuynia cordata --- this has been a menace in my herb garden where I
> made
> the mistake of planting it. It is very invasive, smells awful (not nearly
> so
> nice as cilantro which it is supposed to resemble) and cannot be weeded
> out.
> I resorted to painting each bit that sprouted, with an herbicide, but next
> year will tell the tale.
> On the subject of edible alliums, Allium tricoccum - ramps or wild leeks -
> are a seasonal folk food in parts of West Virginia. I have eaten them
> boiled
> and could hardly recommend them except to those folks who are fond of great
> chunks of raw garlic - not exactly the same taste, but the same kind of
> intensity. But I hear that they are being served as a delicacy in fine
> restaurants. Does anyone know if it is possible to cultivate these bulbs? I
> have a source and would like to try.

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