Stir fried Mallow green and Miso sauce
In the last three years, I have tried my very best to only eat local and seasonal foods. The reasons for that effort are mainly to maximize the nutrient contents of the food, and of course, to save money. Local fruits and vegetables are way cheaper when they are in season. So, if you are on a tight budget, that is the best way to go for keeping you healthy.
Although I do go to Asian markets to buy some specialties, I’ve challenged myself to recreate all the tastes and textures that I miss by using the supply just right where I am living. What does it mean? It means I will not eat mango or strawberry in the winter, and pumpkin in the summertime even if they are all available in the stores. Does it sound “bizarre” to you? And you may wonder why do we have to limit our choices to local foods when we can have strawberries from Spain, and butternut squash from Africa or somewhere? Isn’t seasonal eating just the problem of scarcity in the past? I am not yet sure of the correct answer for that question.
However, I am very sure that nutrient dense foods cannot come from thousands of miles away. The best foods are the foods you grow in your garden. But if that could not be an option for you, then the second best choice is from your local organic farms. Thank the globalization, we now have our favorite fruits and vegetables on the plate all year round. But, have you noticed your vegetables become limited to a few common names such as carrots, potato, kale, spinach, and lettuce over and over again? Most importantly, have you ever wondered why the fruits and vegetables sold in your regular supermarkets and grocery stores taste so plain? Sometimes, in order to make a broccoli taste like broccoli again, a ton of seasonings need to be added.
At first, I thought this challenge is going to be extreme, but I soon discover the result is actually the opposite. The challenge turns into a rewarding and beautiful journey. Not only I learn new things every day with the local people, but also it confirms my belief that Mother Nature provides us with everything we need wherever we stay. Seasonal eating has opened up my mind to appreciate more the abundance of nature, and how one species grows to support the others in this circle of life.
Today, I will introduce to you a new kind of green that I’ve discovered in my local Farmer Market this week. It is actually a wild weed, and you probably will not see it in your regular grocery. You can find it in your local market, or if you are a bit adventurous you can forage it in the wild. It is called Mallow.
I was introduced first by Fatma (Nam’s farm-school teacher) about Mallow on her salad bowl. My husband loves it in the salad, but I do not. I cannot pass the furry leaf in my throat. Luckily, all the fur is gone when it is cooked. When cooked, it reminds me of the taste of Sweet Potato leaf, the Queen of all greens as my father often said. If you are constipated, help yourself a dish of sweet potato leaf and you will be able to go in no time.
As a Vietnamese, I used to put fish sauce in everything. But when we go on a low histamine, and low amines diet, we can never touch fish sauce anymore. Then I discover Miso (Japanese fermented soybean paste with salt and koji). We love Miso so much because Nam does not react to it. In fact, we eat at least one 4oz jar of Miso every 2 weeks. The best Miso should be unpasteurized and naturally fermented for at least 2 years. Also, soybean is always on the top list of GMO crops, so it is important to choose a Non-GMO brand. I got gluten free Miso as well, but if you are not afraid of gluten then you don’t have to. The fermentation helps reduce the effect of gluten anyway.
Nutritional values of Mallow green
Mallow is a super source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, selenium, flavonoids, ALA fatty acids, fiber, vitamins A and C. Same as sweet potato leaf, Mallow has a mild laxative property that helps sweep all the “rocks” out of your tummy. Mallow is also well-known as an anti-inflammatory herb which often used for clearing mucus, and congestion from the lungs.
- Mallow leaves (as much as you would like to)
- Minced fresh garlic
- Olive oil
- Miso paste
- Lemon juice
- Raw honey or maple syrup
- Prepare the Mallow: wash them well, then chop them roughly
- Heat the pan, add olive oil, then add garlic and stir until fragrant
- Add the mallow leaves, stir well, and wait until they all soft and well combined with the garlic oil. They are cooked very quickly, about 5 minutes.
Miso sauce: 1 tsp of miso, 1/4 tsp of raw honey, 1 tsp of lemon juice. Taste and adjust to your liking.
To serve, you can mix the sauce with the green, or deep the green into the sauce. There is no such thing as right or wrong way for this dish. Either way is delicious.
Ta-dah, all done! You can enjoy the dish as it is, or you can serve it as a side dish. My favorite way is to eat with hot steamed rice. Yummy!
Same as many other types of fermented foods, Miso also contains a certain amount of histamine and amines. So if you are very sensitive to histamine, then you must test it slowly to see if your body can tolerate or not. I’ve found that adding garlic, onion, or some fruits which are high in vitamin C such as kiwi or papaya really helps reduce the side effect of fermented foods.
Mallow is a wild green, therefore, it can be high in oxalic acid. Although I cannot find any study to confirm the correct information, the best way to go is to rotate your greens. That way you won’t get too much of anything.
Another way to enjoy Mallow leaf is to use it as a wrap. In Vietnam, especially in the Central and the South, we love to use fresh leaves to wrap meat or fish with some pickles inside. I made my own Sauerkraut from red cabbage. Eating low-carb green vegetables with protein is the best combination for maximum digestion.
Gasparetto, J. C., Martins, C. A., Hayashi, S. S., Otuky, M. F., & Pontarolo, R. (2012, February). Ethnobotanical and scientific aspects of Malva sylvestris L.: A millennial herbal medicine.