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How to choose and cook Chinese leafy vegetables

For two years now I have been living in Singapore, and although the life of expats here is quite isolated, you can learn a lot about the local traditions, culture and cuisine if you wish. As you can imagine, it is the food that I study with particular zeal, and today I decided to talk about such a category of plants as green leafy vegetables.

Chinese leafy vegetables are not only very rich in nutrients, but also able to diversify your diet and taste experience. Some of them can be found in most supermarkets and cooked by yourself, others are easier to order in Asian restaurants. These simple rules will help you choose and cook Chinese leafy vegetables:

Buy only fresh greens of bright color without yellow and limp leaves and dark spots.
Cut off the ends of the stems and cut off the damaged or yellowed leaves.
Wash, wash and wash again! So you remove the remaining fertilizer. Put vegetables and leaves in a large bowl of stainless steel or plastic with cold water, shake, leave for a while, and then transfer to a large colander. Repeat the procedure two more times.
Dry the greens: it should be moist, but not wet. Be sure to use vegetables for an hour or two after washing.
And here are the most common Chinese leafy vegetables.

Bok choy

This Chinese cabbage can be found in ordinary grocery stores, but more often they sell gigantic bok-choi with white stems and large dark green leaves. They are older and a little tougher than smaller vegetables, but still quite tender and sweet. It’s good to chop such a large cabbage for salads. However, to prepare a vegetable side dish in a wok and other Chinese dishes, it is better to take a smaller bok-choy with fleshy light green stems. The recipe can be found in my application. By the way, my mother and some acquaintances quite successfully grow bok choy in Russian summer cottages!

Chinese broccoli

This cabbage has long green stems with dark thick leaves. Chinese broccoli is sweeter and much smaller than usual, the main thing is to choose one with not too thick leaves and open inflorescences. Before cooking, trim the ends of the stems and peel off the stiff upper skin from each stalk, as if you were peeling asparagus. Cut the stems and add directly to the cooking dish: they will reach the desired state very quickly. You can cook them whole, with oyster sauce, for example.

Choi-Sum, or Yu-Choi

This cabbage is reminiscent of Chinese broccoli, but much sweeter and more tender, the leaves are similar in texture to bok-choi, they can be prepared for garnish, stew, add to soups, fry. By the way, this vegetable is used for oil production.

Chinese water spinach

This long leafy green hollow-stalked vegetable is grown in water or moist soil. To prepare, cut the stems into three parts and season with garlic, fermented bean curd or shrimp paste. Fresh spinach can be eaten raw, leaves do not need to be cut. I can say that this greens is my favorite among Asian leafy vegetables.

Chinese spinach, or amaranth

The leaves of this spinach can be plain light green or with a bright raspberry color in the center. They taste like ordinary spinach to taste, try frying them with garlic and tamari.

Chinese cabbage

This juicy large-sized vegetable has a very mild and sweet taste. It is used for the preparation of soups, salads, noodles, and cook styr fry. Choose solid heads of uniform color and cook immediately, bringing home from the supermarket!

Chinese celery

The stalks of Chinese celery are longer and thinner than usual, and probably not everyone will like their bright aroma and taste. If you are ready to appreciate it, try to cook them sty fry.

Chinese mustard greens

The bitter taste of this healthy vegetable is combined with the spicy sweetness of ginger. Try pickled mustard cabbage.


After cooking, this vegetable has a mild flavor and can be a great side dish.

Pea shoots (leaves)

Large pea leaves are softer than small sprouts. Use them to cook any kind of Chinese cuisine.

Edible clover

The leaves and part of the stem of the edible clover have a sweet grassy taste, and they are prepared very quickly. Buy it at restaurants, major stores, and trusted markets so you don’t have a toxic, inedible look. Here, as with mushrooms: it is important to know what you can eat.

Edible chrysanthemum

Two types of edible chrysanthemum are served in Chinese restaurants: with small serrated leaves (usually cook styr fry) or with rounded and wide thick leaves (cook not only stir fry, but also in other ways).

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