Tell me about Ulam Raja - the King's Salad (Malaysian herb: Cosmos Caudatus)
I made a post about Ulam Raja on the home cooking board:
A fellow chowhounder suggested I post to here too. I would love it if you would share your knowledge of this intriguing new herb/salad green with me. I can't find a lot of information on it via Google.
-- my original post --
I came across this plant in the listings of my favourite seed seller: http://www.ebay.com/itm/ORGANIC-HOME-... and was immediately intrigued. I haven't been able to Google up much information, but what little I have found is pretty positive. The health benefits are quite impressive and I'm thinking it might be a nice addition to our salad rotation.
The ebay listing describes it as tasting like "Cos-Lettuce+Celery+Carrot+Flowers", and a blogger described the scent of the crushed leaves as "reminiscent of mango". I'm curious to know how others would describe it, and am also interested in ways to use it.
Thanks in advance :)
"Ulam raja" has a strong, distinctive scent but, flavourwise, is pretty neutral.
Among the Malays and also the Peranakan-Chinese (Straits-born Chinese) in Singapore/Malaysia, it's always served as part of a platter of raw vegetables (called "ulam"), paired with a "sambal belachan" (chilli dip), and eaten with steamed rice/fried fish/chicken/curries as a vegetable side-dish.
I've never ever had (or seen) *cooked* "ulam Raja" before - its very name, which incorporates the Malay word "ulam", does suggest that it's to be eaten raw.
The Malays plant "ulam raja" as an ornamental plant, but also utilizes the leaves as a medicinal herb: when ingested, it's believe to cleanse the body of toxins, but also strengthens one's body constitution. It can be consumed daily.
Picture below of the "ulam" platter served during dinner at the recent annual Peranakan-Chinese International convention held in Kuala Lumpur - you can see the "ulam Raja" leaves there.
It does have a very *strong* (though pleasing) scent - not sure if you can substitute it for lettuce, as "ulam Raja" may not go well with any light Western-style dressing. But you can always experiment - who knows, you may come across a winner.
Usually, the Malay and Peranakan-Chinese eat it "au naturel", as it provides a fragrant respite from the heavy curries, and also to perfume the rice, with a stab of ultra-spicy chilli sambal for flavour.