• Scientific name: Amaranthus dubius/Amaranthus mangostanus L.
  • Mandarin Chinese: Xiàn Caì 苋菜/莧菜; Or 青香苋、红苋菜、汉(汗)菜、红菜、野刺苋、米苋、人旱菜,杏菜、莹莹菜、玉米菜、米谷菜、云仙菜
  • Cantonese Chinese: Yin Choy 莕菜
  • Minnan Chinese: Heng Tsai 荇菜
  • English: Red spinach, Chinese spinach
  • Vienamese: Rau Den
  • Thai: Phak Khom ผักโขม
  • Khmer:  Ptee
  • Bahasa Melaya: Bayam
  • Telugu: Thotakura or Koyagura
  • Malayalam: Cheera ചീര
  • Tamil: Araikeerai
  • Kannada: Kheerey
  • Marathi: Maath
  • Hindi: Chauli, Chavleri Sag

This is not a rare ingredient, but I cannot seem to find it here in Belgium. If anyone knows where I can buy it in western Europe, please let me know.

Spinach is a very common vegetable eaten throughout the Eurasian continent. There are hundreds of varieties, so many that some species are different to tell apart from another, especially for common people. The one I am introducing to you here is one specific species eaten in China. The colour of its leaves ranges from purely red, a mixture of green and red, to purely green, and is commonly known in Mandarin Chinese as Xiàn Caì 苋菜.

Xiàn Caì has a sweet after taste, compared to the common spinach and is known in Chinese medicinal cuisine as “cooling, cleansing”. It is an instant cure for constipation and it aids urination and the expulsion of toxins. If you are on a detox diet like I am right now, Xiàn Caì should constitute one of the major greens you eat. Xiàn Caì also prevents muscle cramps, because according to Chinese medicine, it helps facilitate blood circulation. Its protein is more easily absorbed into your body than those of eggs, and its carotene level is twice that of tomatoes. In Chinese folk culture, Xiàn Caì is also called “Longevity Vegetable”.

However, Xiàn Caì is not for everybody. Those are have weak digestive systems or those who cannot withstand “cooling” foods should not consume it.

Xiàn Caì can be stir-fried or cooked in a soup. Here are two examples:

  • Top: Xiàn Caì in Sharkbone Broth with wolfberries and Jew’s ear 苋菜木耳枸杞鲨鱼汤 
  • Bottom: Xiàn Caì in Chicken Broth and Beancurd knots 苋菜腐竹高汤