Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tsoi Tsim

One of many "mystery" greens I've discovered lately, Tsoi Tsim is apparently a Vietnamese name for this Asian green. I can't find any information about it, nor does the farmer know anything other than the very basics. Tsoi Tsim is only about six inches tall, stems and all, and the small, oval leaves are tender and sweet. The texture of the leaves reminds me slightly of arugula or baby spinach, the main difference being that Tsoi Tsim produces much better results when exposed to heat; when either blanched, sauteed, or steamed, it maintains its beautiful, bright green color and hardly wilts at all in comparison to other similar greens. The stems also are very tender and completely edible. I chopped off only about two inches from the bottom before wahing the greens thoroughly and then coarsely chopping the rest.

My first attempt with Tsoi Tsim was a stir-fry. Quickly sauteed like this they were the perfect addition to the mushrooms, tofu, and other Asian-inspired ingredients that made their way into my pan. My curiosity still not sated, I hunted down another bunch at the market the following week. Whether it's because I know it's an Asian green or because it truly does lend itself well to that cuisine I'll never know, but the Asian meal that I made this time was a simple soup, my take on pho, I suppose. After bringing some homemade chicken stock to a boil, I added some frozen gyoza, a few shrimp and the washed and chopped Tsoi Tsim. While the soup simmered for a few minutes, I flavored it with oyster sauce and nam pla. We of course self-applied hot sauce at the table. The soup was amazingly delicious, especially considering that the whole thing took about ten minutes. The greens floated delicately on top and their flavor and texture was subtle but distinct. Tsoi Tsim is a sweet, tender, and undoubtedly very healthy green that is not slimy, bitter, or fibrous in any way. I would whole-heartedly recommend adding to your repetoire, should you be so lucky to come across it!


Frank said...

Hi Ellen,

I love your blog and found it when I did a google search on Tsoi Tsim. I went to the West Seattle Farmer's Market and grabbed some there.

Your right, it's quite good. We ended up using it in salad with a bit of rice wine vinegar, olive oil, and s&p. It was delicious!

Will make sure to visit you often!

Ellen Holub said...

Good to know that you enjoyed the tsoi tsim as well--the salad sounds like a great idea. We've just returned from a 3 week trip to Japan, so the blog should be back to a more regular schedule now. Thanks for reading!