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Showing posts with label organic farming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organic farming. Show all posts

Friday, September 24, 2021

Tatsoi and How to Use It


If you're like me, you dream about the food that they cook in animes. We've all seen the gorgeous footage of the food in the Ghibli films, where they seem to take your softest and most beautiful dreams and turn them into reality. Beautiful pillows of cake, gooey eggs and sausages, grilled fish...but what are those greens that they often chop and boil or put into stews? I'm going to make a very educated guess and call it here: it's tatsoi, my friends!


Important note: While this is sometimes known as: "Water spinach", it is not "water spinach!" Tagalog-speaking folks know water spinach it as 'kangkong,' and it's delicious in adobo. I do know that kangkong is not exactly the same thing as tatsoi, but I personally use the stuff interchangeably so I don't see the harm in you doing it as well. The flavor profile is practically identical. 

Actually, it's a green you can stick almost anywhere.

This will not have a recipe, per se, but a compilation of recipes as well as a brief profile of the item. Honestly, I could no sooner choose a star in the heavens to profile than I could talk about a single kangkong/tatsoi recipe. I thought it'd be much more fun to talk about all of the things you can do with it instead. But first, let's talk - briefly - about how to grow it!

I partner with an incredible place called KC Farm School at Gibbs Road. It's a gorgeous teaching farm that's less than 15 minutes away from my home in the heart of Wyandotte county and I love working with them, along with other local farms and farmers. Their mission is to empower individuals through hands-on experiences on the farm and to educate everyone on where food comes from.

Cute, huh?

In their CSA program, they grow all sorts of delicious goodies for everyone to take home and experiment with. Honestly, I could never cover every single thing they do, but I am always excited to put on my thinking cap and see what can be made from each week's surprise produce box. Tatsoi has been growing beautifully at the farm and I'm thrilled to talk about it. It's been going out for a couple of weeks now and I'm just now getting to it...last week we talked about soup! The fact of the matter is, though, that this green - which is tender like spinach but is more closely related to bok choi - is incredibly easy to grow and tolerant to a wide variety of climates, and can even grow in the shade. This is an excellent green to plant in the spring or fall when the weather is cooler and milder.

This week for recipes, I'm finally getting around to tatsoi and all the lovely things you can do with it. Shall we begin?

Photo credit to Kawaling Pinoy

How I know kangkong the best is through adobo. Of course, my mom braises hers in a lovely adobo manok at baboy with potatoes and serves it over coconut rice. I like to chop it up and put it in any adobo I'm making, but did you know that you can make a totally vegetarian adobo out of just this stuff as the star? Kawaling Pinoy has an excellent recipe that you can start with! Please note that you don't have to add the bacon or pork belly. Many a great adobo can be used with seitan or jackfruit for extra yumminess. 

Oh, you want my recipes for this, too? Why, sure!

There's absolutely no limit to what you can add to a mac & cheese

My usual go-to for just throwing something together is adding any green vegetable I like to a casserole-style dish. A beautiful lasagna would be great with this in the ragout. You can cream it with coconut milk and lots and lots of garlic. Statistically, however, when it would come to the amount of things I would make if I had this in my fridge and just wanted to incorporate it, I would use it in my vegan macaroni & cheese recipe. Chop it up and mix it in before you bake!

Oh, did the lasagna sound great? No problem!

Instead of cutting the pasta, leave it in sheets to dry for lasagna!


Of course, all you would do is chop it up and add it to your ragout at the end before baking. However, if you want to have something fun, you can use the greens themselves to make the pasta. What you do for this application is take my turnip greens pasta recipe and substitute it in equal parts - by weight, if you please - tatsoi for greens. The result will be a gorgeous green color that you'll be in love with. It's also a fun surprise if you have fussy kids that will freak the freak out if they know they're eating vegetables. 

Too "involved"? I get it - sometimes I want it quick and easy, especially after a long day's work!

This is just an example of what you can put in any egg fried rice!

If you're looking for a much quicker thing to do with tatsoi, try chopping it up and adding it to a protein-rich egg fried rice recipe? You don't have to use duck eggs every time, but I recommend it if you get your hands on it. This, of course, can be a quick lunch or a dinner!

Looking for breakfast? Let's do it then!


The quiche is the perfect vessel for breakfast that you can make ahead the night before or simply assemble the morning of and have it baking. Take my quiche base and add fresh chopped tatsoi to it along with any breakfast meats, cheeses, whatever you like. I recommend putting the cheeses or greens on the bottom before any other fillings so that they won't float up to the top. This will also help prevent the greens from floating to the top and burning. If you want something even quicker, go for an omelette, or a smoothie.

I don't have smoothie recipes. I just throw stuff in a blender, usually with almond milk and a banana as the base. My quickest smoothie recipe ever would just be two large handfuls of spinach(or tatsoi), about a cup of almond milk, and maybe some nuts for extra fats, vitamins, and for mouthfeel. I don't always have frozen fruit on hand so I can't say that I use that a lot. If you need a little inspiration, though, feel free to use this chart.

Thanks, Maria Zamarripa, for this! Check out their site here

I hope this photodump has inspired you to get in the kitchen and use up the gorgeous tatsoi you might have lying around, or to see about picking some up for yourself. You can find it at most Asian markets or plant some now to grow all autumn long. Like spinach, you can keep pinching more off and it'll grow back! If you have things you normally do with tatsoi, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. Thank you so much for spending a piece of your day or evening with me.

Happy cooking and happy eating.