Jon came home the other night with a fogged up plastic bag slung over his shoulder like some hobo on the run.
“See what I got you, Princess?”
He unloaded it onto the counter and out spilled its contents: an enormous bundle of wild miniature green with curly white roots. Watercress.
I’ve heard that Missouri’s creeks are famed for wild watercress, but have never bothered to explore eating it. A few months ago, we got held up at a layover in the Denver airport and I ordered crab cakes from a bar. They came dressed with sprigs of some mystery microgreens that were so bright and peppery that I flagged down the waiter and demanded him to ask to chef to reveal its identity. Jon leaned over my plate, unimpressed, and said, “Watercress.”
Up until that moment, I realized I’d been mixing up watercress with water chestnuts, that pale root vegetable that rose to popularity in the 90s.
Back to my modern life: the wild bundle of watercress on my kitchen counter. Jon said that he’d spent the last minutes of his day plucking them from the stream.
But what to do with them? There’s no abundant supply of crab to fry up crab cakes on the fly. I have the latest issue of America’s Test Kitchen magazine opened up in front of me and was planning a stir fry with some of the cube steak from our recent slaughter. Shrugging, I washed and cleaned the watercress of its muddy roots and tossed it into the wok.
We were amazed by how quickly it cooked down. The entire bundle of raw watercress was just enough to punch up the flavor of the stir fry with an edgy kick. It was fun, different, interesting.
The verdict? I’ll be sending Jon back down to the creek for more very soon.