I used to mistaken this for spinach. It is known as Chinese spinach or local spinach. In Malay language, bayam vegetable can be referred to as amaranth or spinach.
Both spinach and amaranth belongs to the same family (amaranthaceae) family but are of a different subfamily and genus. Both are similar nutritionally. Amaranth contains slightly more protein, Vitamin C, fiber, carotenoids, carbohydrate, calcium and iron1. I think it also the nutrition value varies as there are different types of amaranth and spinach.
3 main types of Amaranth sold in the supermarket: red (Amaranthus Dubius), green (Amaranthus Viridis) and mixed red green (Amaranthus Tricolor).
In the local markets/ supermarkets, both the red and red green ones are also called red amaranth or bayam merah in Malay language. The red and red green Amaranth leaves are really pretty. In fact, Piglet spotted the red green ones among other decorative plants in planter boxes at a Condominium in Indonesia.
If you have a choice between red and green amaranth, buy the red one as it contains more antioxidants based on a study2. If you are planning to use it for soups, you might want to choose green amaranth instead unless you don’t mind a red colour soup. Even the soaking water during the washing process has a reddish hue.
Ways to cook Amaranth
1. Stir fry Amaranth
Stir fry amaranth with garlic
Stir fry with garlic, oil and salt
2. Boil Amaranth
Amaranth mixed with sesame oil, garlic, sesame seed and soy sauce
3. Use it as a spinach substitute
Amaranth and Mushroom Lasagna
Amaranth & Mushroom Omelette
1. Rastogi, A. & Shukla. S. (2013). Amaranth: A New Millennium Crop of Nutraceutical Values. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 53(2), 109-125.
2. Pramanik, P., Bhattacharjee, R., Bhattacharyya, S. (2014). Evaluation of in vitro Antioxidant Potential of Red Amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor) and Green Amaranth (Amaranthus viridis) leaves extracted at different temperatures and pH. Annals of Biological Sciences, 2(4), 26-32