Every month, Diversivore launches two new thematic features. This month’s ingredient page feature is a continuation from last month, all about Chinese green vegetables. Keep coming back for updates and recipes related to this theme, or subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out on anything new.
I’m doing something that I generally try not to do – I’m rolling over last month’s theme. I had other plans for this month, but I’ve decided to put those on hold for now in order to keep talking about Chinese green vegetables. Why? Two big reasons – the first is that the response to this theme has been fantastic, and I’ve got a lot more great recipes to work with. The second reason is, well, there’s just SO much more to talk about! I barely scratched the surface, and I really wanted to make good on last month’s promise to provide a guide that helps differentiate the various Chinese greens while making it easier to choose and use them. So far so good – there are 4 Ingredient Pages that were posted last month – but there are at least 4 more that I really want to talk about.
My reasons for loving this topic are the same ones I gave last month, so I won’t get into all that detail again. Instead, let’s take a look at what new features have gone up, and what direction things will be going this month.
Yu Choy (Choy Sum)
Yu Choy (commonly sold as Choy Sum, which can technically refer to several vegetables) is definitely an under-appreciated Chinese vegetable. It’s relatively easy to find, and even easier to work with. The stems are very tender, especially in comparison to the more well-known gai lan. The flavour is mild and slightly sweet, with a faint mustard-y bite that tends to me more pronounced in larger plants.
The ingredient page is already up if you want to read more. Recipes will be coming later this month!
Bok Choy is probably one of the best known Chinese vegetables, but it remains sadly under-utilized in many kitchens. It’s mild but very pleasantly flavoured, and it can be used raw or cooked.
Try it in Five-Spice Crispy Tofu with Seared Bok Choy or in Garlic and Lemon Bok Choy with Black Sesame Noodles (I’m proud to say that these two recipes were my first-ever features on FoodGawker – bok choy has been good to me!).
Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli)
Broccoli is often substituted for gai lan, especially in Westernized Chinese food. But gai lan is not only really delicious (it’s a little stronger than broccoli with a nice, slightly bitter edge), it’s a lot more versatile than people realize. This Chickpea and Gai Lan Spaghettini might seem like a fusion recipe, but the gai lan works so seamlessly with Italian ingredients that you’d probably never realize that the meal had started with a trip to a Chinese grocery store.
Snow Peas and Pea Tips
This was a fun 2-for-1 post. Most of us are familiar with snow peas, but many people have never tried pea tips (the young green stems from the same plant). That’s a shame, because they’re really delicious, and remarkably healthy. The tips easy to use in salads or cooked meals, and the pods add texture and flavour to stir fries and more. If you already love snow peas but you’re looking to explore other less-familiar Asian veggies, check out this classic Stir-fried Snow Peas and Lotus Root. If you haven’t already tried pea tips (or if you have, because you know they’re awesome) try them with Honey and Ginger.
So what’s in store for this month? You can expect at least 4 more new ingredient pages covering even more Asian greens. There will be some more of the endlessly diverse Brassica veggies (I’ve got a beautiful, little-known bok choy relative called tatsoi in the fridge right now, just waiting to be worked with), but you can also expect some very different looking (and tasting) veggies this month too. All I’m going to say for now is that you can expect some names that are much more commonly associated with flowers than with dinners.
So stay tuned as Diversivore continues to expand the catalogue of Ingredient Pages with even more entries designed to help shed some light on the unusual, affordable, and delicious green veggies found in Asian grocery stores. Of course that means more new recipes, including more vegan and vegetarian food, along with some great crossovers with Diversivore’s second new theme for the month. What’s that theme going to be? You’ll find out very soon, with the next update.
Curious about a particular Chinese vegetable? Let me know in the comments, or send an email to [email protected]