Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ho Ho Houttuynia

Houttuynia!  The area around our front porch is covered with this lovely, green and red variegated plant, officially named Houttuynia cordata.  I thought it was just another pretty face for the longest time, but this season I've discovered it as a culinary herb.  And I love it!

The leaves have a strong flavor, which, according to Wikipedia, is sometimes described as "fishy".  A fishy tasting herb does not sound that appetizing to me, and probably not to you either.  But I've started using it in place of fish sauce in recipes and it is just fantastic.  

Tonight I'll be making the Edible Forest Garden version of Vietnamese meatballs.  I make it a little differently every time (yeah improvising!), but it goes something like this:

1 lb ground pork
1/4 c. finely chopped basil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 multiplier onions, finely chopped (can substitute an equivalent amount of scallions or regular onions)
a small handful of Houttuynia leaves (about 10 leaves), finely chopped
1 Tbsp hot chili sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Form into meatballs, cook in sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, about 15 minutes, turning meatballs frequently to cook all sides.  Unless you have an enormous skillet, you'll need to do a couple batches. 

I think we'll eat this tonight with some stir fried eggplants from our garden, and maybe some carrots and cucumbers to cool things down.  Provecho!

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