Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter)

Do you know what this kitchen tool does?

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 1

The many spokes? The long pointy stem?

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 2

It's a Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter). Cousin Q's older brother bought it for me several years ago at the San Gabriel Superstore when we went shopping for his Fourth of July barbecue. The water spinach splitter cost about $2 to $3 and can be difficult to find, depending on where you live. I was quite happy to stumble upon it myself.

It's a little silly to acquire a kitchen tool that really only serves one purpose, but the water spinach splitter makes my favorite garnish for my favorite soup -- Bun Rieu Cua Tom Oc (Vietnamese Crab and Shrimp Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Snails).

So how do you use it? Well, rau muong/ong choy (Vietnamese/Chinese water spinach) isn't also called "hollow" vegetable for nothing.

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 13

First, pluck the leaves off the stem. Discard the hard bottom parts because if it's too hard to snap, it'll be too hard to eat. Keep the leaves and tips for stir-frying into Rau Muong/Ong Choy Xao Chao (Vietnamese/Chinese Water Spinach Sauteed in Fermented Bean Curd).

It's best to use the stems after they have been refrigerated because the stiffer the stem, the easier it'll be to pull through the spokes. I prefer to keep the stems between three to six inches, too short and the strips won't curl, too long and they'll curl too much.

Insert the tip through the hollow stem and push it toward the spokes.

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 3

Push the stem through the spokes and then pull the strips until the whole stem is pulled through.

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 4

See?

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 5

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 6

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 7

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 8

The strips aren't curly yet.

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 9

Soak them in cold water and they'll start to curl up. I add about 1/4 tsp of salt to the water to maintain crispness. I like to add some younger leaves into the mix as well.

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 10

About 10 minutes of soaking should be sufficient for the stems to be properly curly. Drain in a colander.

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 11

Plate and serve as a garnish or as the greens for a salad.

Dao Che Rau Muong (Vietnamese Water Spinach Splitter) 12

My favorite use of curly water spinach stems is as a garnish in Bun Rieu Cua Tom Oc (Vietnamese Crab and Shrimp Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Snails). There's just something about the freshness and crunch that the curly stems add to the soup.

Bun Rieu Cua Tom Oc (Vietnamese Crab and Shrimp Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Snails) 24

And, I also like to use the curly stems in Xa Lach Thit Bo Rau Muong (Vietnamese Steak and Water Spinach Salad).

Xa Lach Thit Bo Rau Muong (Vietnamese Beef and Water Spinach Salad) 2

Fun!

Other kitchen equipment can be found in Peek in My Kitchen.

*****
1 year ago today, Miette Patisserie (Ferry Building) - San Francisco.
2 years ago today, Thai Purple - Alhambra.
3 years ago today, peach-stuffed doughnuts at The Donut Man - Glendora.

23 comments:

  1. That is the coolest uni-tasker I've ever seen. I want one.

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  2. Wow! I never even knew these existed. They make the veggie look so cool. A very pretty garnish.

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  3. Any tips on how to find one in California, or do I have to stumble upon one like you did?

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  4. Brilliant. I have a similar tool for splitting green beans but it doesn't have the long spike on which to apply them. Your's is so much better.

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  5. I always wondered how they got them to look like that! neat!

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  6. Aha! now I know how those Asian markets make the water spinach stalks curly. Thanks!!!

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  7. I never would have guessed :D The garnishes are so pretty.

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  8. When I was young, my mom gave me the task of splitting the rau muong with the dau che. At first I was perplexed as to how I was supposed to achieve that task and then she showed me. I thought it was the best thing ever and begged her to let me split the rau muong every day for dinner. hahaha I almost forgot about this contraption. Thanks for reminding me about it!

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  9. I've never actually eaten kangkong raw before!

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  10. Oh, that is one excellent tool. I wish I had one of them as a child - I have not particularly fond memories of being sat on the kitchen floor, carefully slicing bucket loads of rau muong into thin slices and dumping into another bucket of ice water and having to halve again the slices that wouldn't curl because I'd cut them to thickly.

    Oh, and I love bun rieu!

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  11. hi wc - wow, that's pretty cool. i've never seen one of those before. i've never eaten water spinach before either. i'll have to try that soup one day at one of the local VN restaurants....

    enjoyed seeing the how-to photos too! :)

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  12. This is so neat. I'm going to have to look for one! No one ever wants to eat the stems in my family, but I think it'll taste better when it's split like that.

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  13. Wow! I never noticed that water spinach could be prepared in this way!

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  14. Ah that tool! Brings back so much childhood memories! My parents had one of those and I just have to say it takes such patience and dedication to shred enough stems to make dinner for a large family. I always ended up hurting my fingers!

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  15. Vicki,
    I think everyone wants one after seeing this. :P

    Marie,
    How did you leave comments before?

    x3baking,
    They are very pretty indeed.

    JP,
    I got mine at the San Gabriel Superstore that I linked to in my post, but you can always look for them at whichever Asian supermarket is close to you.

    Debs,
    Hmm. Wonder what I'd do with skinny curls of green beans?

    Silver Aria,
    Back in the good old days, you'd have to painstakingly slice them by hand.

    Pepy,
    The stores in Canada sell them already curled? I've never seen that here.

    5 o'clock tsp,
    Thanks!

    Diana,
    The first time I saw the knife was long ago too when my aunt was making bun rieu. So much fun!

    TS,
    So many things to introduce to you! :)

    Oanh,
    It just occurred to me that one could do this with a thin pair of scissors as well. If a rau muong splitter wasn't readily available. A lot easier than using a knife.

    CC,
    Bun rieu is fairly common? You just have to know to look for it on the menu. :)

    Kirbie,
    The stems are my favorite part. So crunchy!

    Wxin,
    Yuppers!

    Savory Satori,
    Haha. After a while, I start thinking do I really want to eat that much salad? Then I stir-fry the rest. :P

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  16. Yes. I saw two stores sold them. I saw my friend in the US bought the curled water spinach too. I don't remember which state she lives.

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  17. I think I've figured it out. I used to run my blog from blogspot and then moved over to WP, so maybe I last commented when I was still on that. Usually the 'comment as' dropdown has a name/ URL option but this one doesn't. I might ask Blogger about it. Sorry to mess up your comments! Just delete this:-)
    Marie

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  18. Love, love, love! I've never heard/seen this tool before! Thanks for introducing it to us. :)

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  19. wut tha heck??? i cant believe someone thought of splitting rau muong! every little stalk...

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  20. I bow to the queen. This is definitely cooler than any single purpose gadget in my kitchen, and now I know the back story on water spinach. Live and learn.

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  21. Pepy,
    Huh! I've seen julienned green papaya here, but never prepared curled water spinach.

    Marie,
    Aha! We figured it out. Although, I don't allow anonymous comments (too many trolls) so you'd have to be signed into Blogger to comment since the option doesn't read dot-coms. If you don't mind that is.

    Tia,
    So surprised! I figured you'd know about this.

    Van,
    I wonder if this is one of those inventions that made the creator a bunch of dough? Maybe not? Not too much demand? :P

    Tammy,
    Haha. Thanks!

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  22. Hi! One of my non-Vietnamese friends always admired how nicely and crunchy rau muong looks and tastes every time she eats bun rieu with us, and she likes rau muong so much. So I gave her this tool as a gift, but she was too intimidated to use it. When I first saw this entry title, I wondered how much you could blog about this simple tool. Wow, I was amazed! Pictures for each step are just so perfect. I love the post, and my friend, too. Now, she can start using the tool. Thank you, Wandering Chopsticks!

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  23. Ktmtran,
    Haha! Thanks! Sometimes what seems so obvious to us might not be so to others. But many times, I've been surprised when Vietnamese people tell me they learn things through these kind of posts too.

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