Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Water Pepper

You see here some micro Water Pepper (Persicaria hydropiper) that we recently received to experiment with. As microgreens go, its handsome green leaves with pink undersides and pink stems look great on the plate.

Water Pepper is known for its wasabi-like spice. The grower that I bought it from went on and on about how spicy it is, but we never found it to be overly spicy. Maybe these micros are just too young to have developed killer spice. Eating a few of the leaves is akin to taking a bite of prepared "wasabi" powder. Wasabi is in quotes because wasabi powder contains no actual wasabi, but that's the subject of another post, once I get some fresh wasabi root to photograph.

I notice that the leaves have a slight bitter cast on the initial taste, followed by the spice, which lingers and reminds me of Sichuan pepper. What's a bit weird is that it doesn't have any real flavor of its own, just slight bitterness followed by the burn.

I enjoyed it as a replacement for wasabi with tuna sashimi, wrapped into tekka rolls, and in summer rolls. I also mixed a bit into my local mesclun for my personal lunch salads. Water pepper retains its spice when cooked (I put a batch of wilted leaves into a quick salsa), but I'm not sure why you'd cook with such an expensive green.

Note to chefs: this micro does not last long. It wilts in a hurry. You must store it cold and tightly covered, so you can't keep it in the top of your garnish box, even with a loose fitting lid. That's a bit of a pain at service, but so it goes.

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