Plant Parenthood: Thai Watercress

I want to be able to go to the garden, look around, and pluck leaves off plants, or find ripe fruit just in time for dinner.

Lofty ambitions, I’m sure! But slowly, surely, we will get there. We begin with Thai watercress.

Thai watercress

Our laundry lady gave us this plant. She didn’t even know what it was called.

I liked it because it was so pretty, with its pink stems and dark green leaves. It seemed to lush, and it seemed to thrive in the spots where she had planted them. I took to watering them daily.

One day I found a stem that had fallen from the main plant. On a whim, I put it in water. I was overjoyed when, a few days later, I found roots floating from the ends!

I decided to cut two more lengths of stem with some leaves. I put them in clear glass jars, and I put them in the living room. Every day, I checked their progress. Every two days, I changed their water. I was thrilled every time I saw new leaves growing, every time I noted that the roots had grown longer, floating here and there as I turned the jar this way and that.

It’s so pretty, sitting there, growing roots.

It made me so happy. And I didn’t even know what it was called!

Finally, I posted a call for help on social media. “Help me identify this thing!” I asked. And someone answered! A classmate from long ago said he looked it up and it seemed like watercress. I tried Google Lens on my phone, and he was right–sort of. It wasn’t just any watercress. It was Thai watercress!

With my mother’s blessing, I planted some in the grotto, and it seemed to thrive! Since the cuttings seemed to grow roots so quickly, I thought it would be a good idea to grow Thai watercress in the grotto. The soil there had been dry for so long, and whatever we had planted years ago was long dead. So I transferred one of the two plants our laundry lady had given us. Happily, it seemed to thrive there!

Thai watercress, growing in the grotto.

Salad, literally garden fresh

When we found out that what we had was Thai watercress, I checked online to see if it was edible. I was so happy to see recipes!

I found one that looked easy, considering it was the first time I was going to use the watercress in a recipe. Tofu-Watercress Salad only had a few ingredients and it didn’t look very fussy.

Thai watercress salad!

Of course, I tweaked the recipe a little bit. I fried the tofu (okay, my brother did it!). I didn’t have red chilis, so I used a few drops of Sriracha, mixed into the dressing. And instead of vegetable oil, I used sesame oil, skipping the toasted sesame seeds.

Paired with my mom’s spring rolls, it was divine! The basil (leaves plucked from my brother’s plant) and the mint (store-bought) smelled to lovely, and they went so well with the lemon juice and fish sauce. The Thai watercress had a slightly bitter taste, almost like arugula, and it was so lovely.

Of course, I saved all the thick stems, and this morning I put them in water. As soon as they grow long roots, I’ll add them to the grotto! For now, we’re eagerly looking for new recipes to try.

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