[Spinach dock; Shchavel (Russia, Ukraine); Rugstyne (Lithuania); Macris, Stevie (Rumania); Szczaw (Poland); Azeda (Portugal); Kuzu Kulagi (Turkish); Ambada Bhaji, Gongoora (India), Rau chua, Rau thom (Viet-American); Rumex acetosa | French Sorrel; Rumex scutatus]
Sorrel grows wild over much of Europe and is a common crop there. Despite being called for by many recipes, it is of very limited availability here in Southern California, probably due to perishability. Sorrel's taste is almost exactly that of the unrelated Wood Sorrel. As with spinach, sorrel's tartness is provided by oxalic acid. Photo by Burschik distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike v3.0.
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More on Southeast Asian Herbs.
This herb is most used in salads and sauces in England, France and Italy. Here in North America, Sorrel has joined the Vietnamese herb plate. There is no Vietnamese name, but Viet-Americans call it Rau chua (sour herb) or Rau thom (fresh herb).
Buying: It is very uncommon here in Southern California due to uncertain demand and perishability. It is sometimes seen in Farmer's Markets, but more reliably at Jon's Market in Glendale, a market serving Russian and Armenian communities.
Storing: This herb needs to get from field to table very promptly before it wilts. Loosely wrapped, it will last a day or two in the fridge.
Subst: Spinach is considered an imperfect substitute because its flavor is more complex and it isn't nearly as tart (many European recipes call for a combination of spinach and sorrel).