Endives To Beat The Wife With

By Tris Marlis - Monday, Apr 22, 2013

If you overheard someone ordering 打老婆菜 “da lao po cai” (literally means “vegetable to beat the wife”) at cze char place, do not be surprised. That person is not domestically violent. He is just ordering a plate of stir-fry escarole, a type of endive. If you are tired of the usual kangkung, kai lan and long beans, perhaps you may add this new green to your list.
The origin of its quirky name traces back to tales from ancient times. There was a farmer who brought a whole basket of endives home for his wife to cook. The leaves with high water content wilted in contact with heat and shrunk dramatically. After cooking, a whole basket of endives was reduced to only a small bowl of stir-fried greens. The husband was furious when he saw the small dish. He thought his wife took pinches of it while cooking and so he beat her up, hence the name “da lao po cai.”
Escarole has the least bitter taste in the endive family; it requires little or no cooking. Its mild and tender core with crunch of a lettuce is suitable for salad, goes well with fruits and egg. The tougher outer leaves are great for soups, and it is also perfect for sautéing to draw out the natural nutty flavour with a slight bitterness.
Besides its easy preparation, endive has very little calories (100g contains 17 calories), contains high fibre, vitamin A and minerals such as iron and potassium. A current research studies also suggests that the high inulin and fiber content in endives help reduce cholesterol in diabetes and obese patients.
This type of green is available in wet markets and supermarkets like NTUC. It is also available occasionally at cze char places; just ask for their daily specials.

(image courtesy of Suzies Farm via Flickr)