Importance of watercress in the kitchen
In Western cooking, watercress has not had the importance that is granted elsewhere in the world, which is considered one of the most important vegetables. For example, in the Zen kitchen, watercress is more important that spinach.
Used in the kitchen, watercress can also be considered a vegetable and a food that belongs to spices or aromatic plants. Its flavor is pungent and sweet because of the presence in its essential oil of two sulfur components (phenylethyl iso-sulphocianate and raphanol).
They are also present in other plants such as radish or mustard, which, in addition to smell and taste, provide them all with antiseptic properties and confer beneficial properties to intestinal flora.
It is for this reason that watercress taste reminds quite a lot to that one of mustard. These sulfur compounds give it its very particular aroma and the tickling sensation to the nose.
How to keep watercress at home?
No watercress should be preserved as much time at home because they do not last long once harvested. The major problem with the watercress, once plucked from the ground, is that it loses moisture quickly.
We can buy in bunches watercress or packaged in a plastic bag. If you buy in bunches, it is best to eat as soon as possible. They can be kept fresh till a couple of days when stored in the vegetables department of the fridge. Although it may seem that they can be preserve green for about 5 days, if we let more than 24 hours, they begin to lose vitamins.
A way to extend the conservation is wrapping them in sheets of paper towels in the fridge. This will get to retain a little moisture. Watercress bought in plastic bags can hold a little more. If you want to eat later than 6 or 7 days, it is best to freeze them.
How to clean and prepare watercress?
It is very important to properly clean the watercress. We know that we can pick wild watercress for the possibility of contamination (See “Precautions with watercress“). Even coming from the market, it must be adequately washed to remove dirt and insects. To this end, once at home, we place watercress into a bowl with tap water where a drop of vinegar and a pinch of salt has been added. We will cut the roots and separate the leaves one by one, rubbing them well with water and discarding those that are yellow or bad.
Once clean, we will put them into a strainer and rinse with not-hot tap water. We will drain them well and squeeze a bit with a wooden spoon to remove excess water. Once cleaned and sliced, they should be cooked or eat as soon as possible because this vegetable has a great facility to become yellow and dry. In this case, if they lose too much water, in addition to losing food properties, they are too spicy.
How to cook watercress?
– Fresh Watercress: The most common way is to eat fresh watercress in salads, accompanying other greens and vegetables. They can be mixed with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, etc. adding their unique aroma and flavor to these foods. Eaten in this way, it is the best way to take full advantage of all their vitamins and minerals. However, we should remember watercress should be eaten in moderation because, if you do not, they may be irritating to the stomach and the urinary tract. For example, the following recipe:
|Watercress salad with chicory|
|Ingredients for 4 people:|
– Two handfuls of watercress.
– 4 chicories.
– 2 cloves of garlic.
– Olive oil.
– Wash and separate the leaves from the watercress properly. Place them at the bottom of a dish to form a very thin layer.
– Prepare the chicory leaves apart and clean them properly. Place them on the dish forming a flower in the center of the plate.
– Cut the garlic into small pieces and sprinkle on top. – Season with Olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Ways of serving them:
As a first course.
(See more watercress recipes)
Besides salads, they can be used raw to perfume ice creams, to accompany “tortillas”, to make sandwiches, etc.
– Watercress stews: Another way to eat them is to cook them. They can be added to soups or you can make a vegetable puree with a moderate amount so you get more flavor to these preparations. They can be cooked like spinach by means of frying them. We should not abuse cooking these kind of foods, since a too long cooking ends up botching vitamins C and B and softens their texture too much.
For the non vegetarian people, watercress can serve as accompaniment to other foods higher in fat, such as meat or fish. In this case, as well as providing aroma and flavor, watercress helps better digest these foods and “cleans” the body from fats.
More information about watercress.
22 April, 2022