20060222

venturing into the unknown.

wild eggplant

i was at the saturday salcedo market this weekend (again), and came across two novelties for me. the first (as pictured above) was wild thai eggplant (solanum melongena, solanum torvum, or solanum undatum, i'm not sure. fruit blog, help!), some as tiny as capers and the largest no bigger than a centimeter, centimeter and a half in diameter, but assured to be completely edible as is. they were completely appealing to me--little tumescent jade jewels clustered like gaudy ornaments; only joan crawford in her matriarchal PepsiCo chairman's wife years could pull off a brooch like that. i am rarely inclined to cook when i'm in town, but i was so very tempted to buy some; however, i'm at a complete loss as to how these would be best prepared. anybody out there have a recipe for me?

unknown herb

directly beside it lay this fascinating herb that is completely unbeknownst to me. the leaves look like tiny lotus or waterlily pads, and it carries no real scent aside from the greeniness of the chlorophyll. wait. i take that back; it is not completely unfamiliar, as i think i may have seen it amongst the greenery on many a post from the pieman, and special combo affirms the suspicion that it may be used in vietnamese cooking. still, i am unsure. can someone clue me in?

anyone? anyone? bueller?

19 comments:

I am going to send you some links, if I can find them...wait...

Found one. I remember having a drink in a can like this, it is actually commom and I can get it in Seattle.

Click on the photo of Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) The leaves are the same shape.

http://www.yummytaste.com/ingredient/thaiherbs.htm

i love the thai eggplants - the tiny ones. We call it 'sundakkaai' in Srilanka. Tamil language.

There must be more recipes. fancy recipes for this.

But, i used to cook them with lots of onions and green chillie and curry leaves.

would saute onions in 1-2 tspn oil. would add the green chilli. would put some anise seeds. would tear up curry leaves and add to this mixture.

previously i would have cut the thai pea eggplants into halves. would keep them immersed in water. will drain them off nicely.

i will add some curry powder to the onion mixture. stir 1-2 times. just to remove the raw smell. will add the cut halves of the thai pea eggplants.

will cover and cook until it's cook. will sprinkle some water, if necessary..

this is the way my aunt cooked them. and that's how i remembered it.

would love to know some simple recipes for them..

-Mathy

p.s.: i used to cook them when i lived in honolulu. i do see them here in montreal. but they are not as fresh as they were in honolulu. :(

The herb could be

Centella asiatica

'vallarai' in Tamil.

http://www.hinduonnet.com/mag/2002/08/04/stories/2002080400450700.htm

Thai curries use the egglplant I believe. A good green curry with chicken, basil and those eggplants, divine on jasmine rice.

gia, thanks for the info! how does the drink taste?

mathy, you are a wonderful source of information--thank you for the recipe, and the link!

mila, thank you! it sounds like it would be divine. one day i'll get back and actually think of cooking when i'm there :)

Yeah, we use the Thai eggplants in our Thai curries. I've also cut the eggplants in half and saute with sambal, then simmered to soften.

The herb could be Nasturtium leaves. Need to see the top of the leaves - hard to tell from the photo.

If it's Nasturtium leaves, they taste a little peppery and go great with mixed greens salad

mm--the eggplant in sambal sounds delicious, thanks for the idea!


anon--these look quite similar, but i don't think they are. we have nasturtiums growing in pots, and the leaves are slightly larger, darker, and fuzzier. i like nasturtium flowers in salads, but didn't realize you could also eat the leaves. thanks for the tip!

market man posted a similar one
thai pea eggplants

hi sha, you are so on top of things. thanks!

santos, you truly have me stumped. I took out several reference books and have been unable to identify this herb/leaf. But I haven't given up...will still have to search some more. The leaf shape looks kinda like Lady's mantle or Dewcup but I amnot sure. If all else fails, I will try and catch up with Gil Carandang the next time I am in Salcedo to ask him about this...you were at his stand...

I think the leaf could be gotukala...hmm..but it loks rather too textured..

next time i'll buy some and do a taste test or dissection....

Pea eggplants are great in green curry (or maybe jungle curry?). I haven't had them in anything else. They are a seasonal treat here in california. They freeze OK, but just aren't the same as fresh.

Hi

Hope it's not too late to offer a comment on the unknown herb. I think it's "pennywort", and in Malaysia, we call it "pegaga". It has some medicinal values too - see http://66.45.20.235/food/special/1999/asian/pennywort.html

Cupcake

hi diane and cupcake, thank you for the information--all is appreciated, and stored for future reference :)

Though I rarely stray into the field of vegetables, I'm going to guess Solanum torvum. Wild thai eggplant in my book here is listed as Solanum undatum, but it looks like S. torvum to me. It's not S. melongena.

The leaves are what we Malaysian would call 'pegaga'. It tastes slightly bitter, and reportedly said to have the same medicinal value as the bitter gourd. It's usually eaten as an 'ulam', or raw salad dipped with sambal sauce, with belacan. It can also be made into a refreshing health drink.

thanks evil fruit lord and onion sama!