My new favorite vegetable!

In the new diet I’ve been given, I’m supposed to eat a LOT of spinach. Basically there seems to be spinach with every meal. I have to admit, as big of a vegetable eater as I am (I love every one of them, with the exception of broccoli rabe), spinach is my least favorite. I think it’s watery, tastes grassy and flat most of the time, no matter how much I season it with garlic, salt, pepper, chili flakes, what have you.  Being in the food industry and a weekly vendor at several farmers markets in my community, I am fortunate enough to have a close relationship with many farmers, and one of them gave me a “present” the other day. He introduced tatsoi to me. This looks very much like spinach, but has a bit more peppery and spicy flavor with a a crunchier and more interesting texture. Tat soi to me is an all around  more excited green, and you can use it the same way you would use spinach; in salads, soups, stir fries and as a side to your protein.  Tatsoi looks like a flat rosette with tender, dark green, spoon-shaped leaves and short light green stalks.  Here’s a picture of it that I took of my bunch:

Tat soi is native to China and widely cultivated in Japan, it is considered an ancient green. Tat soi also goes by other names such as flat cabbage, spoon cabbage or rosette bok choy. It’s a member of the brassica family along with broccoli, collard greens, brussels sprouts and kale. Tat soi is most similar in taste to mustard greens (although not as strong) and in texture to bok choy.

Here’s a recipe, adapted from epicurious.com incorporating tat soi that I would like to try:

Grilled Halibut with Tatsoi and Spicy Thai Chiles

5 tablespoons erythritol
5 tablespoons fish sauce*
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Thai bird chiles with seeds or 1/4 large jalapeño chile with seeds, minced
1/2 small carrot, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips
6- to 7-ounce halibut fillet
  1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 -3/4 pound tatsoi  (about 8-12 cups packed)

Mix first 7 ingredients in medium glass bowl.

Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (Sauce can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat).

Place carrot in medium bowl. Cover with ice water. Let stand 15 minutes, then drain well. Spray fish on both sides with Pam.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until just opaque in center, about 4 minutes per side.Meanwhile, heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat, spray with Pam.

Add shallot; stir 1 minute. Add tatsoi; sprinkle with salt. Toss until tatsoi is wilted but still bright green, about 2 minutes; divide among 4 plates.Place fish atop tatsoi.

Sprinkle each fillet with carrot; drizzle each with 2 tablespoons sauce. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.

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4 thoughts on “My new favorite vegetable!

  1. What’s the purpose for all of the spinach/tat soi in your diet versus another leafy green? My frustration is that it cooks down to nothing so one bag from Trader Js is good for one meal with barely enough to share, and is not cheap!

  2. Hi Elizabeth! There are many reasons why spinach is described in my diet. Spinach is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables of all the leafy greens, contains a lot of iron and fiber and is a natural diuretic (helps the body shed water), and also a muscle building vegetable. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, something needed in a bodybuilding diet in addition to nutrients preventing osteoporosis, a condition many women with low body fat following a strict diet such as myself, can end up suffering from. Spinach is filling as well, and contains a lot of vitamin A, C, B and K. So.. as you can see – provides a lot of positive effects but I agree with you – it’s frustrating that it cooks down so much! luckily I get easy access to fresh spinach from the farmers markets we do, so I always make sure I stock up. I will be substituting with tat soi whenever I can though just to get a change!

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