Saturday, 7 December 2019

Cassia, Cinnamon but not with Fish Mint

We start with another look in part 2 Cinnamon and cassia in the Spice it Up segment  plus growing an unusual mint in Vegetable Heroes;


Cassia vs Cinnamon part 2
Last week in part 1 of this segment about cinnamon and cassia, Ian the herb and spice expert talked mainly about where and how, each of these spices are produced.
  • One thing to note: in America, Cassia Cinnamon is just called cinnamon and Sri Lankan cinnamon is called Mexican cinnamon.  
Keep this in mind when reading recipes on the internet or in American cookbooks.
Also, how to tell them apart just by looking at the cinnamon sticks, or feeling and tasting the power.
This time, we’re delving a bit deeper and giving out some recipe ideas also.
I'm talking with was Ian Hemphill from
Let’s find out.

There were some tricks of the spice trade to trap unwary customers.
Cassia is from a different tree mianly grown in China, Japan and Vietnam.
All of the bark is taken from the tree to make cassia quills. These look deceptively like the more expensive cinnamon quills but here's the difference.
Cassia on the left: Cinnamon on the  right
  • Cinnamon quills have many concentric layers
  • Cassia quills only have one concentric layer.
If you want to make Chai tea, think twice before using cassia cinnamon.
This type of cinnamon is too strong, but the true cinnamon, or what I regard as true cinnamon from Sri Lanka, is milder and sweet.
  • Think cheap spice, is it really worth it?
Remember unless that cinnamon powder that you bought feels smooth with any any grittiness, it’s probably been adulterated with cinnamon outer bark. 
Mulled wine jelly


Rind of 1 orange
Rind of 1 lemon

2 cinnamon quills
6 cloves
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
100ml vodka
10 gold-strength gelatine leaves
200ml port
2 cups (500ml) red wine
2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar
300ml thickened cream
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Herbies Mulled Wine spices can be susbtituted for the cinnamon, cloves and vanilla bean.

Place rinds, cinnamon quills, cloves, vanilla pod and seeds and vodka in a bowl.
Stand, covered at room temperature for 4 hours or overnight to infuse.
Once citrus mix is ready, soak gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, transfer citrus mixture to a pan.
Add the port, wine and sugar, then place over low heat and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves (don't let it boil).
Squeeze gelatine to remove any excess water, then add the leaves to the pan and stir to dissolve.
Cool slightly.
Strain the mulled wine into a jug, then pour into a 1-litre jelly mould.
Cover and chill overnight until set.
When ready to serve, whip cream then fold in ground cinnamon.
Unmould the jelly, then serve with cinnamon cream
If you have any questions for me or for Ian, why not write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Houttuynia cordata is Vietnamese Fish  Mint Herb
  • What is this fishy smelling herb with a hint of citrus which is also known as chameleon plant, fishwort an bishop’s weed?It’s also known as Dokudami which means “poison-blocking plant” and was often used for the exact same purpose.

Vietnamese fish mint is a flowering plant native to Japan, Korea, southern China, and Southeast Asia, where it grows in dark moist, shady places and along river banks.
Sometimes submerged deep in freshwater areas.
Houttuynia cordata: Fish mint
A somewhat invasive plant, it can be found growing on hills, fields, and even between cracks in asphalt.
In those countries it’s used as a leaf and root vegetable.
Vietnamese fish mint smells like a combination of fresh fish, mint and citrus, and has large amounts of the aromatic chemicals myrcene and undecanone.
These and many other naturally occurring chemicals are the basis of its huge list of medicinal uses.
According information about this herb it treats stomach aches, indigestion and swellings. Among other things.
  • Leaves can also be crushed to a paste to cure insect bites, rashes and itching.

The leaves are sort of heart shaped, and the plant itself grows to anywhere between 20 – 80 cm, depending on the climate and conditions you’re growing it in.
Vietnamese fish mint does have flowers in summer which are greenish-yellow and only 2-3 cm in size.
Fish Mint
Although mine has never flowered/
At first glance, a fishy tasting herb doesn’t seem all that appealing but, you can use in fishy flavoured dishes, with grilled meats, fish and noodle soups. 
The roots are rather interesting and grow to resemble a big ball of spaghetti which can be eaten raw or cooked.
Some people prefer the roots to the leaves because they have an aromatic flavour like ginger or galangal but without the heat.
How to Grow Vietnamese Fish Mint
Vietnamese fish mint is apparently an extremely common garden plant inf the UK and is able to withstand temperatures down to -150C.
However, the variety grown in England is the one with mottled technicolour splodges called Houttuynia cordata Chameleon, where the one grown in Asia is the plain leaved variety.
These plants grow best in very damp, rich soil either in the garden border or in the boggy margins of a pond, being perfectly happy with their roots entirely submerged in water.
In full sun, they’ll have a stronger taste and more intense colour on their leaves.
But if you’re keen on a milder flavour, then grow it in partial shade which will give you larger pungent leaves.
The plants are extremely vigorous and will spread out in all directions because of the vigorous roots system.
This plant is super tough, and in moister areas it really can be weedy, but if the plant strays too far, they’re pretty easy to pull out.
However, there’s no reason to plant it out into the garden because it grows really well in pots in a shady location but keep it moist.
That’s all there is to it.
There’ll be plenty of leaves for you, the chooks and the guinea pigs.
Cooking with Fishy Mint
Vietnamese fish mint can be eaten in all the same ways as regular coriander-sprinkled in salads, stir-fries and added to soups and stews.
It makes a pretty good garnish and is traditionally used in Cambodia, chopped up and sprinkled over a salad of sliced hard-boiled duck eggs with fried ground chillies, mint, chopped raw shallots and roasted peanuts.
In Malaysia the leaves are added to a spicy coconut laksa and in Thailand it’s used in heaps of salads, whereas in Vietnam, it’s used summer rolls.

Sauce: 2 teaspoons rice vinegar (I use Chinkiang), 1teaspoon chilli oil, 1 teaspoon. sesame oil, 1 teaspoon. soy sauce
Marinate 10 minutes, not more.
Top with chopped coriander, spring onion, and finely chopped smashed garlic.
Vietnamese summer rolls (serves 4 makes 12 rolls)
Dipping sauce
2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 tbsp fish sauce
Juice of ½ lime
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp chilli sauce 60 ml water
For the rolls
12 x 22 cm extra thin dried Vietnamese rice papers
18 cooked king prawns sliced in half lengthways
2 large handfuls of Thai basil leaves, mint and vietnamese mint leaves.
16 chive leaves
½ a cucumber cut into matchstick sized pieces
2 carrots grated
150 crisp lettuce leaves.
Make the dipping sauce by mixing the peanut butter, fish sauce, lime juice etc.
Working with one rice paper round at a time, dip it into a shallow bowl of cold water and leave it to soften for a minute.
Remove and lie on a damp paper towel and cover with another damp paper towel.
Continue until you’ve done 6.
To assemble the rolls take one round and arrange a few prawn halves tip with thai basil, mints chives, cucumber carrot and lettuce leaf (torn or folded to fit)
Fold the edge of the paper closest to you over the filling then fold in the sides and roll the whole thing up like a burrito into a tight cylinder.
Place on damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out. Repeat with other round.
Why Is It Good for You?
When you’re allergic to a substance, your body produces histamine, a compound that initiates an immune response.
Studies have shown that Vietnamese fish mint has inhibitory effects on histamine release, possibly blocking it and reducing its effects.
This herb is high in antioxidants, promotes intestinal balance by discouraging harmful bacteria from thriving in the digestive system.

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