HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >

Water Spinach

b
bitstreamer Apr 25, 2013 08:30 AM

Does anyone know where I can buy fresh water spinach (i.e. tongxincai, ong choy, kangkong, Chinese spinach/watercress, rau muong) in Northern Virginia? I've recently looked for it at Great Wall in Merrifield, H Mart in Centreville, and Lotte in Chantilly and couldn't find it there. I've been really enjoying the Chinese Watercress Malaysian Style (Kangkong Belacan) at Taste @ Hong Kong, and now I want to try making it at home.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. n
    nova_ssss RE: bitstreamer Apr 26, 2013 09:47 AM

    I haven't looked this year, but as far as I know, it's been at least several years (probably longer) since any of the Asian grocery stores in this area have sold it.

    The last place I saw it near here was in Philly Chinatown either last year or the year before.

    If you ever find some raw Chinese watercress, you should take some of the hollow stalks and plant it in the ground. Then you won't have to worry about going to a grocery store any more to find it. Just make sure to water it at least twice daily and make sure it has plenty of sunlight and you'll have lots to eat.

    1. d
      dpan RE: bitstreamer Apr 26, 2013 10:49 AM

      When they are in season (I think it's usually spring through fall), they are available in every Chinese market. I know Great Wall carries it, not so sure about the Korean markets (H Mart, Lotte, Grand Mart, etc.).

      7 Replies
      1. re: dpan
        n
        nova_ssss RE: dpan Apr 30, 2013 07:21 AM

        Have you personally seen or bought it from Great Wall in Merrifield? My parents go there every week and have not seen it there over the last several years.

        I've seen spinach at Great Wall but not Chinese Watercress (ong choy) there.

        I think it grows until around some time in September if I remember correctly and then the leaves don't taste as good or are as plentiful anymore.

        1. re: nova_ssss
          d
          dpan RE: nova_ssss Apr 30, 2013 08:26 AM

          Yes. All the time when they are in season. They have them with the bags over the leaves.

          1. re: dpan
            n
            nova_ssss RE: dpan May 1, 2013 06:07 AM

            You must be the lucky one. I asked my parents again yesterday and they said they have never seen any ong choy at Great Wall. That's ever since Great Wall Merrifield has been open.

            In any case, whenever you happen to see any ong choy at Great Wall Merrifield, could you let us know here and how much it costs?

            1. re: nova_ssss
              d
              dpan RE: nova_ssss May 1, 2013 06:58 AM

              Are they looking in the right place? I think they put them in along the wall on the right in the open refrigerated section along side all the other leafy vegetables like pea pods, watercress, etc.

              1. re: dpan
                n
                nova_ssss RE: dpan May 6, 2013 09:02 AM

                Yeah, they're looking in the right place. I can tell you that as of this past Saturday, Great Wall doesn't have any.

                So when you've bought it from there, what section has it been in? Just asking cause you didn't sound sure in your previous post as to where Great Wall puts them.

                1. re: nova_ssss
                  n
                  nova_ssss RE: nova_ssss Jul 9, 2013 07:31 AM

                  So, water spinach is now in season. Has anyone seen it at any grocery store locally?

                  I was at Great Wall Merrifield this past Sunday. No water spinach anywhere. You'd have to put out an APB to find it there.

                  Or, go up to NYC Chinatown. I was there for the holiday weekend and they were selling water spinach on the sidewalk. 1 pound for $2 or 2 pounds for $3.50 from a vendor on Canal Street near Tai Pan Bakery.

                  1. re: nova_ssss
                    d
                    dpan RE: nova_ssss Jul 10, 2013 09:00 AM

                    Apologies for the wild goose chase. My wife bought some a few weeks ago. She got it at a small Vietnamese grocery in Centreville (Park N Shop on Lee Highway near Pickwick). I think most of this is grown locally by backyard growers. You may try the small Vietnamese groceries to see if they have any.

      2. c
        comestibles RE: bitstreamer Apr 30, 2013 08:14 AM

        I have not seen it in Chinese grocery store, but it must be around somewhere because I had it at a local restaurant last week.

        1 Reply
        1. re: comestibles
          n
          nova_ssss RE: comestibles Apr 30, 2013 08:19 AM

          I've always thought it was odd that the restaurants would have it (even when it's not in season) but the Chinese grocery stores would not.

        2. b
          baltimorejim RE: bitstreamer Apr 30, 2013 07:34 PM

          My wife's uncle Isaac was a cress harvester in Frederick County years ago. He used to supply many Chinese restaurants in Washington. I googled watercress maryland and discovered a 1941 account of the cress business here http://frederickcountymd.gov/index.as... Perhaps Isaac learned the business from this fellow. Cress is plentiful in streams in Frederick and Washington Counties.

          A few years ago I was given a bushel or so leftover from someone who brought it in to a market where I sell antiques. The cress grows in streams and should be available May through Sept. I am surprised with the popularity of ramps that more people are not cashing in on cress.

          1 Reply
          1. re: baltimorejim
            l
            laraffinee RE: baltimorejim May 23, 2013 09:50 AM

            Wow...what a great article! I wonder if the Johnson mentioned in the article is related to the Johnson family that used to own the farmland of our neighborhood....

          2. alkapal RE: bitstreamer May 6, 2013 11:00 AM

            i know i've seen it at eden center in that very small veggie stall over in the west side inside arcade -- the arcade where "Phung Hoang" restaurant is located.

            BUT, i haven't been there lately; it might be worth a shot, as they have lots of veggies. if you go, stop into Phung Hoang and get their delicious lotus root salad!

            ~~~~~~
            not an immediate solution, but maybe think of buying an earth box to grow some of your favorite asian veggies and herbs. i think i'm going to do that this year -- once it warms up, that is. http://myfolia.com/plants/2736-chines...

            1. d
              Doh RE: bitstreamer May 6, 2013 05:09 PM

              Sorry can't help, but is that the same vegetable that is translated as morning glory in Thailand?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Doh
                b
                bitstreamer RE: Doh May 6, 2013 05:31 PM

                I believe so (at least according to Wikipedia).

                1. re: bitstreamer
                  d
                  Doh RE: bitstreamer May 6, 2013 07:22 PM

                  Thanks. Now I want to find it too. :)

                  1. re: Doh
                    b
                    bmorecupcake RE: Doh May 6, 2013 07:58 PM

                    I bought a morning glory plant at a Songkran festival this year and it died on me. I finally accepted the sad truth today and tossed it. Back to daydreaming of fresh ong choy for another summer.

              2. l
                laraffinee RE: bitstreamer May 23, 2013 09:43 AM

                It is definitely the best spinach I have ever had. My neighbor grows it for several Asian restaurants and is under exclusive contract with them. From time to time he brings me some, and I am in heaven.

                It is probably best to get seeds and grow your own. Fresh picked it is simply divine!

                1. w
                  Worldwide Diner RE: bitstreamer May 23, 2013 11:01 AM

                  I saw some last week in that super market in Eden Center.

                  1. y
                    yummytummy1 RE: bitstreamer May 16, 2014 10:04 PM

                    so i don;t know if this is true or not, but it is illegal for stores to sell it in the northern virginia area? my mom just ask me to get some for her from Richmond. i tied googling why, and i found this board. but still no answer as to why it is hard to find.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: yummytummy1
                      w
                      Worldwide Diner RE: yummytummy1 May 17, 2014 05:39 AM

                      I doubt it's illegal since I see them regularly at the Eden Center super market.

                    Show Hidden Posts