Raw Water Spinach Leaves Are Edible
water spinach
The botanical name of water spinach is Ipomoea aquatica. It is closely related to morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea), so it is also called water morning glory.

From rough observation, there seems to be two varieties, one with broader leaves, and another with grass-like narrower leaves. On further inspection, there seems to be further difference in stem colour, green or whitish green. The narrow-leaf and white-stem varieties are said to be tastier.

It is a perenniel and trailing herb. Its stems are hollow so it has a Chinese name that literally means hollow heart vegetable. It contains white sticky sap. It can also serve the purpose as an ornamental plant due to its flower that shapes like morning glory. Its fruits are round capsules about half an inch that hold four seeds.

It can be propagated by cuttings and seeds, but water spinach that grows from the seed is more tender. It prefers full direct sunlight. It is semi-aquatic so it can grow well on both soil and water. Due to its prolific growth, it can also be used as animal fodder.

The leaves and stems can be eaten raw as salad or together with rice. Some people may not like it raw because it contains milky sap that may cause itchy throat. For it to be eaten raw, it should be homegrown. This is because commercially grown water spinach may contain parasites. It is very perishable after harvesting so it should be consumed soon. Its colour easily turns dark when cooked so to avoid that, it should be stir-fried over flame large enough to get the "wok aroma" (鍋氣).

Posted: 2016-11-21; updated; 2017-05-08-22 by Ong Seng Aun.
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