There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.~ Mirabel Osler
My mother is the most gifted gardener I know. For as long as I can remember, she never possessed the best-looking nails because of all the muck she plays around with everyday, but as a positive spin-off of that, we always had really nice gardens wherever we lived. Even when there was no garden, like the house we had in Central London where there was only a rooftop area for some pots of greenery...well, she managed to landscape that area to make it pretty somehow.
Of course, coming back here we have acres of land for my mother to do whatever she wishes to it. The land is like her blank canvas and her art is transforming it into beautiful bursts of colors and terrains and textures, filling it with numerous flowers, plants, fruits trees and vegetables. Such is her passion for gardening that she almost always brings back some new "plant" or seeds from her travels abroad and will then replant them in her garden.
Many times when I'm out in the yard with her, she would point out to some shrub and say, "Do you remember when we lived in/visited (insert country name) and we went to that (insert park name, botanic centre, neighbor's house, etc)? Well, this is the plant I smuggled back from there!". Yes, she's incorrigible. And her soil-stained, 'green' fingers seem to be able to nurture anything, so smuggling plants is a way to feed her gardening addiction.
One day last week, as we were both walking around with her in the newly-configured garden, I saw an unfamiliar plant. My mother informed me it was ginseng she had brought back from Kuching, Malaysia and the leaves can be eaten as a salad or sauteed with some garlic to make a hot side-dish. Meanwhile, the finger-like roots can be boiled into a herbal drink. I plucked a leaf, popped it into my mouth and it tasted pleasantly tangy, turning into a velvety texture as I chewed on it. Inevitably, I ended up clutching a bunch of these ginseng leaves home and the first thing I did was turn them into this beautiful Ginseng Leaf salad.
This is a very easy salad to throw together. It has a predominantly citrus/tangy note due to the orange, pomegranate, Ginger Torch flower and sweet-sourish Thai green mango (Nang Klang Wan) I added to it. A simple dressing made from lime juice, red onion, garlic and sesame oil completed the salad. Out of my mother's garden, I also picked some Scotch Bonnet peppers below and added just half of one (it was HOT!) into the salad. That sweet-sour-spicy salad really made my day!
I turned these into a mind-blowing hot sauce, mixed with fiery Thai chillies! Recipe here :-).
Last weekend, I invited some friends over to "The Farm" (a.k.a. my mom's play area) to pick some vegetables - we brought home sweet corn, squashes, long beans, eggplants, spinach, Thai chillies and more Scotch Bonnets. Kate (from It's The Norm) and her husband Rob came along and I bet they're now at home wondering what to do with all the vegetables they'd picked! You can read Kate's related post here.
Once a food blogger, always a food blogger... Kate and Co. in action.
Ginseng Leaf Salad with Pomegranate, Orange and Green Thai Mango
2-3 handfuls ginseng leaves, plucked from the stems
1 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 Thai green mango, peeled and sliced thinly
1 orange, peeled and sliced
Juice of 2-3 limes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small scallion/onion, diced
2 Torch Ginger flower petals, finely diced
1/2 Scotch Bonnet, finely sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
sea salt and pepper, to taste
1. Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl and prepare the dressing.
2. For dressing, mix the lime, sugar, sesame oil in a small bowl and marinate the garlic, onions, Ginger Torch, Scotch Bonnet (if using) in this lime mixture for about 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to come out. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to distribute. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge to chill before eating (note: the ginseng leaves do not wilt).