Wombok /Chinese Cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis) - Wombok's sweet, mild flavor and crunchy texture make it ideal for many uses. Try it shredded in coleslaw or use the leaves as wrappers during steaming. It can also be stir-fried, steamed or added to soup. Pickled wombok is popular in many countries and makes a wonderful relish. Keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
Pak Choy or Baby Pak Choy (Brassica rapa
subsp. chinensis Green stemmed variety) - Pak Choy has a sweet, mild
flavor and a firm texture. Separate
the leaves, wash and chop
leaves and stems roughly before cooking. Pak Choy is great in a stir
fry, added to soup or simply steam then drizzle with soy sauce or sesame
oil. Keep for up to a week in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Baby Buk Choy (Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis dwarf variety) - It is
usually has a slightly stronger flavor than Pak Choy, but is similarly
great stir fried, steamed or added to a soup or casserole. Divide the
leaves, wash and chop roughly before cooking. Keep for up to a week in a
plastic bad in the fridge.
Buk Choy (Brassica rapa subsp.
chinensis) - Buk Choy is like two vegetables in one - juicy, crunchy
stems and mildly peppery dark green leaves. To prepare, separate the
leaves from the stems. Cut the stems diagonally so that they soak up
more flavors from the sauce. Add the stems first when stir frying or
steaming as they take a little longer to cook.
Gai Lan /
Chinese Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. alboglabra) - It may taste a
little like head broccoli but it's crunchy stems and thick leaves give
it a texture all its own. The stems, leaves and flower buds can all be
stir fried, steamed or added to soups and casseroles. Thick stems should
be cut in half and added before the leaves as they take longer to cook.
Gai Choy (Brassica juncea) - It is sometimes known as Chinese
mustard, has a definite spicy, mustardy flavor. There are many
varieties. Some have thick sets and large, crinkly leaves, others are
small and delicate. Mature gai choy needs to be cooked by stir frying,
steaming or pickling. Fresh, young gai choy leaves can be added to
salads for a peppery bite.
Baby Choy Sum (Brassica rap a subsp.
parachinensis) - Baby Choy Sum is extremely easy to prepare and cook.
Rinse and roughly chop the whole bunch then stir fry, steam or boil for
only a few minutes before serving. Its mild flavor and crunchy texture
go well with many meals.
Choy Sum (Brassica rap a subsp.
parachinensis) - Choy sum's mild flavor, crunchy stems and soft leaves
go well with many different foods and flavors. Simply wash and roughly
chop the whole bunch then stir fry or steam or add to soup, stew or even
curry. Keep for up to a week in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Kangkong (Ipomoea aquatic) - It is a common vegetable in many parts of
Asia particularly in the Philippines. The hollow stems have a crunchy
texture which contrasts well with the tender leaves. The flavor is mild
to slightly sweet making it great in salad or lightly stir fried with
chili and garlic. Cook on a high heat until the leaves are just wilted.
Use immediately or store in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 2
En Choy (Amaranthsus tricolor) - En choy's bright red
color comes from antioxidants called betalains, similar to those found
in beetroot. Its flavor and texture is similar to English spinach and
the combination of red and green adds interest to any meal. The leaves
and shoot tips should be lightly steamed or stir fried until just
wilted. Use immediately or wrap damp stems in paper or plastic and store
in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Tung Ho (Chrysanthemum
coronarium) - There are many varieties of Tung ho or 'chrysanthemum
greens'. Some have deeply lobed leaves while others are more oval and
rosette. It is strongly aromatic with a pleasant texture and somewhat
bitter flavor accentuated by overcooking. Steam, blanch, stir fry with
other vegetables or add to stew or soup. Keep up to 3 days in the fridge
wrapped in plastic.
Chi Qua (Benincasa hispida var. chieh-gua)
- Chi quas are sometimes called "hairy melons" because of their coating
fine hairs. Their flavor and texture is rather like zucchini but with
much thicker skin. Peel and slice before adding to a stir fry, soup,
casserole or even grilling on the BBQ. Alternatively cut the chi qua in
half, scoop out the center, stuff with mince or rice and bake. Store in a
cool place for up to a fortnight (14 nights).
Sin Qua (Luffa
acutangula) - It has a spongy texture and mild flavor a little like
zucchini. The hard ridges which run its length are usually peeled off
before the sin qua is sliced and added to a stir fry, soup, curry or
casserole. Grated sin qua can be added to an omelette. Choose firm,
young sin quas and store in a cool place wrapped in paper or plastic for
up to 5 days.
White Radish (Raphanus sativus) - White radish
is usually milder than red radish, but can still be quite hot and
peppery. Japanese varieties are called daikon, while Chinese call them
lo bok. White radish can be grated and added raw to salads, pickled,
stir fried or steamed in savory cakes and omelets. Keep for up to a
fortnight (14 nights) in a plastic bag in the fridge.
(Luffa cylindrica) - The shui qua or 'sponge luffa' is closely related
to the sin qua and has similarly mild flavor and spongy texture. Young,
tender shui quas can be cut in half, the seedy centre scooped out, then
stuffed with a mince or rice mixture and steamed or baked. Overmature
shui quad can be made into the 'loofahs' we use in the bath or shower.
Fu Qua (Momordica charantia) - Fu qua is also known as bitter melon',
and for good reason! Excess bitter flavor can be removed by soaking thin
slices in salt. Remove the seeds and pith. It can also be used fresh in
salads, stir fried, added to curry or pickled. Choose fu quad which are
firm and bright green and store in a cool place (not the fridge) for up
to one week.
Lotus Root (Nelumbo nucifera) - Delicate lacy
slides of lotus root keep their crunchy texture even after cooking, so
they are a wonderful way to add texture and interest to a stir fry, soup
or stew. Lotus is juicy with a slightly sweet but rather mild flavor,
best served with other ingredients and sauces. Scrub or scrape the skin
to ensure it is clean then slice finely before cooking.
Bean (Vigna unguiculate ssp. Sesquipedalis) - Snake beans are similar to
green beans but with a stronger flavor and denser texture. They are
simply cut into short lengths and cooked the same way as other beans;
boiled, steamed, stir fried, added to casseroles etc. Keep for up to 5
days wrapped in plastic in the fridge.
Seng Qua (Benincasa
hispida spp.) - It is also called 'long melon'. It is similar to chi qua
but tends to be lighter colored and smooth skinned instead of hairy.
Peel and slice thinly or cut into chunks. Try basting thin slices with
chili, garlic, and soy and grilling on the BBQ. Store in a cool place
for up to a fortnight (14 nights).