All About Malabar Spinach
Malabar spinach isn’t quite spinach at all. It’s a perennial, climbing vine that grows thick, meaty leaves that just happen to look and taste quite a bit like spinach, especially when cooked. Native to India and Indonesia, the plant thrives in hot, humid environments (look out East Texas!), and can grow up to 30 feet long.
In season: summer, autumn.
- Malabar spinach’s Chinese name translates roughly to “flowing water vegetable.”
- In herbal medicine, the raw leaves are chewed to relieve the pain of mouth ulcers.
- Like many dark green vegetables, Malabar spinach is full of vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium, and is a rich source of fiber.
Store in a plastic bag in the fridge to prevent the leaves from drying out. Wash just before use under cold, running water.
Malabar spinach doesn’t wilt as fast as many other greens, and stands up for itself well in soups, stir fries, and curries. It’s peppery citrus flavor pairs well with lime, chilis, and garlic, and especially shines in South Asian cooking featuring coconut and ginger. Or try it in a simple braise with bacon and onion as you would with collard greens.