The many spokes? The long pointy stem?
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.
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.
Push the stem through the spokes and then pull the strips until the whole stem is pulled through.
The strips aren't curly yet.
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.
About 10 minutes of soaking should be sufficient for the stems to be properly curly. Drain in a colander.
Plate and serve as a garnish or as the greens for a salad.
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.
And, I also like to use the curly stems in Xa Lach Thit Bo Rau Muong (Vietnamese Steak and Water Spinach Salad).
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.