RE: edible aroids

From: on behalf of
Sent: 	Tuesday, April 15, 1997 2:39 PM
To: 	Julius Boos
Subject: 	edible aroids

     regarding this recent trend on edible aroids, i would like to offer
     the following observations.
     1) regarding bac ha, neil wrote:
     "I can't shed much light on bac ha but I do know of a chinese green
     vegetable called bok choi - I guess the bac/bok part may be a standard
     prefix for leafy greens. "
     i doubt that is accurate.  i don't speak vietnamese (bac ha) nor
     cantonese (bok choy) but in taiwanese, peh-tsai ("white vegetable")
     denotes nappa cabbage and is a widespread term that in other chinese
     dialects is applied to other leafy vegetables, including the one that
     we call bok choy, (i suspect "bok" is cantonese for white). 
     incidentally, "tsai" (taiw.) or "choy" (cant.) not only designates
     leafy vegetables but also is used to mean "dish", as in, "we should
     order two dishes for dinner tonight."
    >  2) regarding the long dormancy of taro corms, i wouldn't be surprised
    > about the longevity of plant matter and its ability to
    > "ressuscitate".  there was a magnolia seed that was found in an
     >excavation in japan that was dated to be at least 2,000 years old. 
     >the seed sprouted and after it bloomed, the plant was identified to
     >be an extinct magnolia that existed thousands of years ago!  so why
     >not for corms?
    I agree. Remember that some Aroids, seemingly when under stress, will 
produce TINY tubers or bulbils that are difficult to observe, that wash away, 
or blow away from the "mother" plant.  This happens in Caladium bicolor; I 
have not seen it reported in the literature as yet.  It explains why you find 
small plants growing where you have not planted them!.
   >  3) growing up in brazil of taiwanese parents who were culturally
    > japanese (because of japanese colonization of taiwan - reinforced by
     >the fact that we lived in the japanese section of sao paulo), we ate
     >a lot of japanese foodstuff, including "konyakku" which i understand
     >comes from the corms of amorphophallus konjac.  konyakku is a       
    > somewhat translucent, starchy, firm paste (much firmer than jello),
    > that is sliced and sauteed with other vegetables in a curry sauce,
     >for example.  it doesn't taste half bad.
    It`s also sold as noodles[see below]. Phil Mueller sent me a can some 
years ago; it`s also available in Chinese groceries. It`s made from 
Amorphophallus starch.
  >   4) here in new york's chinatown, some vegetarian restaurants serve
    > dishes made of "yams", including translucent noodles.  i suspect that
     >the yams used are not the true yams (dioscoraea) nor sweet potatoes
     >(ipomoea), but an aroid, possibly amorphophallus.  would anyone 

     >for sure?
    Yes, they are made from Amorphophallus starch["Elephant yams" is one of 
the names used]. You can purchase the can and it`s labled as such!
    > 5) eduardo, i never heard of tapioba (xanthosoma) while in growing up
     >in brazil.  maybe one day, you can send us some? :-)
 Dear  Tsuh Yang-- Ask in any Jamaican or Trinidadian or W.Indian grocery 
for"dasheen bush to make Calaloo"[Jamacians will try to sell you a can labled 
as "calaloo", but these are spinach leaves, and have a different flavor.]The 
dasheen [taro] leaves are tied together, and sold freshly harvested!   
Yesterday I bought some locally here in West Palm Beach, Florida.  To my 
delight there were also land crabs for sale , their leg`s tied with vines as 
you`d see them in Trinidad! You can use American "blue" crabs in their place, 
but clean all crabs first by removing their backs, aprons, gills, etc., and 
scrub with a brush [no soap!]!  The following recipe can be prepared with 
fresh or canned spinach, but the subtle flavor of the dasheen [taro] leaves 
will be missing.  I`m sure that the Xanthosoma [tapioba] leaves mentioned by 
Eduardo would be simular.  ENJOY! 
                             "TRINIDADIAN CALALOO". 
1 1/2 doz. dasheen [taro] leaves .
3 crabs [cleaned shrimp can be used, but they give a different flavor.]
1/4 lb. pickled["salt"] beef or ham bone. 
1 doz. fresh okras.
1 tbsp. butter.
1/2  lime.
1 onion.
5 garlic cloves.
1 bay leaf [optional]
1 sprig of fresh thyme.[optional.]
Salt, black pepper, other seasonings to taste. 
1 Pint boiling water.[1/2 pint if you use the coconut "cream".]
                           METHOD.[Serves aprox. four]    
 Break CLEANED crabs at mid-line, and using a ceramic or steel[NOT aluminum!] 
bowl, squeeze 1/2 lime over them; add salt,black pepper, and 1/2 the garlic 
[finely minced],and reserve. Wash and soak salt beef for one hour to remove 
excess salt, cut up into small pieces and reserve.
 Strip the "skin" from the leaf stalks and mid- ribs.[you don`t need to remove 
all of it], shred and reserve.
  Cut"heads" and "tips" off the okras and discard, cut the rest of okras into 
rings, reserve.
  Place all the ingredients except butter in an enamelled or steel [no 
aluminium or iron] pot and pour on boiling water, simmer for 30 mins, add  
butter,  stir briskly to break up leaves, serve hot!  Add hot W.I. pepper 
sauce to taste!            
   Note:-  If you want to REALLY make it Trinidad-country style [and 
Brazilians will LOVE this!], add the following:--                              
                                   COCONUT "CREAM".                            
                                                       Pierce a dry coconut at 
the "eyes", drain water and reserve.{SMELL these eyes when you are purchasing 
the coconut; if it smells rancid, or "off", choose another one!!]  Break it 
open with a hammer, or by hitting it sharply on the cement floor of your 
garage, or on a rock!  Carefully remove meat from shell with a 
knife[CAREFULLY!] Place coconut "meat",coconut "water", and 1 more cup of tap 
water in a blender and grind together; strain and squeeze through cheese 
cloth, discard coconut "meat". Use this "cream" by adding it to the calaloo 15 
mins. before it`s done, and reduce the amount of water by the amount of 
"cream" you will use.                                                          

 tsuh yang chen, new york city

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