Another Great Green


One of my new trials this year was the Asian hybrid green Misome. I got my seed from Nichols Garden Nursery, one of my favorite sources for unusual and useful seeds. It’s a hybrid of tat soi, a vegetable that I love but can only grow in the fall. I planted Misome in earliest spring and it grew beautifully, producing deep green savoyed leaves that shone in the sun like the deepest jade. It had no insect or disease problems. Like many mustards, the only secret is to plant it early enough. The flavor was mild and ever so slightly mustardy. I used the youngest leaves in salads and the older ones stir-fried. It held for a surprising time in the garden, considering our early and very hot and windy spring, and when it bolted a few weeks ago, I pulled up the plants and fed them to my goat Magnolia, who was ecstatic over them. I like to believe that the dark green color indicates a high level of beta-carotenes, but I have no data to prove that. I do know from experience that it’s delicious. I’ll be planting another crop in early fall. Keep it in mind for next spring, or order some seed now while you’re thinking about it.

One of many ways to stir-fry greens:
This is too simple to be written as a recipe. Think of it as a basic technique that works for a wide variety of greens. Peel and chop a clove of garlic, a 1/2″ piece of ginger, and a 1″ piece of turmeric. Have ready a tablespoon of Thai fish sauce, a tablespoon of palm sugar or agave nectar (a surprisingly good substitute) and half a cup or so of coconut milk (not the low-fat kind). Thoroughly wash a pound of misome leaves, whirl them dry, and cut them across in 1/2″ slices. Heat a large wok very hot, put in about 2 tablespoons of canola oil, and dump in the chopped garlic, ginger, and turmeric and fry, stirring constantly, for a minute or until the fragrance comes up, which may be less than a minute. Be careful not to burn them. Now put in the strips of misome, fry a few minutes while turning regularly, and then add the fish sauce and coconut milk. Continue to stir-fry over very high heat until the coconut milk thickens, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, and serve immediately. This is surprisingly satisfying by itself with jasmine rice for lunch. If you can’t find fresh turmeric, leave it out. Do not under any circumstances use musty dried turmeric instead.
Dishes like this will give you a glow of virtue and good health that goes on for hours. Perhaps it’s a true virtue of the greens, or maybe it’s just the glow of achievement that comes of eating what you grew. Either way, it feels good.

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