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Primarily a plant native to the humid, tropical lowlands, the Kangkong plant is an herbaceous, trailing, shiny vine with a milky sap. The stems of the plant - which can grow up to 2 to 3 metres - are hollow, and are typically found trailing in moist soil or floating in aquatic locations. The leaves are the shape of arrow heads. Leaves range in size from 5 to 15cm in length, and up to 5cm across. The plant's pretty white flowers with a mauve centre are trumpet-shaped, but are not used in cooking. Kangkong has a similar flavor and succulent texture to common spinach, with mild and nutty flavor notes. Common in Asian cuisines, the kangkong is prized for its crunchy stems and tender leaves in simple stir-fried dishes.
Kangkong leaves are available year-round.
Kangkong leaves are botanically classified as Ipomoea aquatica. Also known as Kangkung, Kankun, Water spinach, River spinach, and Swamp cabbage. In the Southeast Asian region, Kangkong is a popular leaf vegetable and can be found in most Southeast Asian cuisines. Young shoots can be eaten raw in salads or cooked with other vegetables, treated similarly to other cooking greens accompanying spices and meat.
The plant is rich in the minerals calcium and iron. The leaves are useful for those suffering from anemia, where the red blood cell count or hemoglobin is less than normal. Green leafy vegetables like kangkong and spinach are used as dietary supplements, since the mineral-rich vegetables help with iron supplementation, which in turn helps with red blood cell and hemoglobin production. Kangkong contains sodium, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and zinc. It also contains B2 (riboflavin) along with vitamins C and K. Some studies have found that kangkong contains flavonoids such as catechin and phenolic compounds, and therefore has antioxidant and anti proliferative properties. This means it can help inhibit the growth (in vitro) of some cancer cells.
Eaten as a vegetable dish, often stir-fried with oil and flavor-booster like soy or fish sauce. Also can be used in curries and soups.
Kangkong is a humble vegetable that shows up without much fanfare at any Asian table. It accompanies meat and rice dishes, and is often ordered as an afterthought. Visit Thailand and Vietnam, and as long as you were dining at local restaurants, it's impossible not to have eaten it. Because it grows easily and is available year-round in Asia, it is used in any number of dishes. It is most often stir-fried in oil, and depending on where you are, it can be fried with soy beans, soy sauce, sambal chili, oyster sauce, and fish sauce. It can be used in curries and soups, or deep-fried and added as a filling for spring rolls.
Believed to be native to India and South-east Asia. The earliest instance of kangkong is said to date back to the Chin Dynasty in China (304 A.D). The fast-growing, easily propagated species was brought across the globe by Asian immigrants moving from their home areas for work. The plant is grown from seeds or cuttings, and has spread to Africa and South and Central America. It was brought to the United States in the 1970s and although it never took off as a popular vegetable, it grew so voraciously that in Florida, it is considered locally and federally to be a noxious weed. Grows well in warm climates, but suffers below around 23 deg Celcius.
Recipes that include Kangkong Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.