Asian Vegetables

Fresh Bamboo Shoots

Available year-round with a peak season from late Spring to early Summer.

Fresh bamboo shoots vary in size. They consist of several fibrous layers tightly bound and overlapping one another to form a conical point. Their color is yellow with brown markings throughout. The flavor of  bamboo shoots are mild and sweet, similar to that of baby corn.

Bitter Melon (Fu-Qua)

Available year-round.

Bitter melon is long and slender, with a rough and bumpy edible skin. The Bitter melon has a translucent, crisp, and bitter flesh and holds a great amount of flat white bitter seeds. As the fruit matures,  the flesh increases in bitterness. Ripe fruits are saved for their seeds and replanted. The Bitter melon is considered the most bitter of all fruits.

Baby Shanghai Bok Choy

Available year-round.

Shanghai bok choy is the young variety of bok choy. The thin stalks are tender, crunchy and succulent with nuanced cabbage notes and sweet pea undertones.

Bok Choy, Full Size

Available year-round.

Bok choy has flared light green leafy blades. Though the plant is entirely edible, the leaves are the most tender and mild part of the plant. The stalks are firm and succulent with notable cabbage texture and sweet undertones.

Chinese Celery (Kun Choy)

Available year-round.

Chinese celery has a stronger taste compared to regular celery. Although it can be eaten raw, it is preferred in cooking preperation. The leaves and stems of Chinese celery are used to flavor soups and stews, and removed just before serving.

Baby Choy Sum

Available year-round.

Baby Choi Sum varies greatly in appearance. Their fleshy stalks and their appearance resembles a blooming Bok choy. Baby Choi sum’s stalks range from white to pale and lime green. Leaves are more on a darker green color, oval-shaped crinkled in texture with pointed tips. Baby Choi Sum has a mildly cruciferous flavor reminiscent to young broccoli and spinach.

Chrysanthemum (Shingiku)

Available fall through spring.

There are two main varieties of chrysanthemum leaves:  small leaf and broad leaf. Both varieties have long green leaves attached. The broad variety offers a thicker and larger leaf with rounded lobes. Their flavor is similar to that of mustard greens and has a bitter bite.

Pea Tendrils (Dai Mui)

Available during winter through Spring

Pea tendrils, or Pea vines as they are sometimes called, are the thread, leafy and blossom of the snow pea, snap pea or sweet pea plant. Their flavor is grassy sweet and nearly identical to the flavor as the typically harvested part of the pea pods.

Wintermelon (Don-Qua)

Available year-round.

Donqua (Winter melon) is dark green squash-like melon primarily used in soups. The flesh is white, very soft and similar in taste to zucchini. Winter melons can be weight up to 100 pounds. The rich water texture of winter melon flesh is similar a watermelon, and becomes soft when cooked. The wax that develops over its skin gives it a long shelf life and can be kept for several months if left un-cut in a dry cool place.

Fuzzy Melon (Mo-Qua)

Available year-round.

Moqua has an appearance of a spotted cucumber or zucchini. Its skin is true-green covered with a fine fuzzy coating when fruit is still young. The flesh is still medium-crisp and creamy white. Its flesh is very delicate and sweet. Moqua can be used like a young summer squash or zucchini. It can be eaten raw, sauteed, roasted and/or fried.

Baby Gai Choy

Available year-round.

Gai Choy color and flavor vary. Leaves can be matte finished, crinkled or smooth with colors ranging from pale to bright green. The ribs are generally always thick, fleshy and succulent. The flavor of Gai Choy is true to the mustard family. Its pungent, peppery and reminiscent of wasabi mustard with a more robust depth when cooked. Mature Gai Choy should be cooked for best digestion.

Gai-Lan Mui

Available year-round.

Gai Lan (Baby Chinese Broccoli) varies slightly from one variety to the other, each plant produces thick green stems. When the plant matures they produce underdeveloped flower buds. The younger plants have crisper tender stalks and leaves. Gai Lan has a flavor similar to broccoli, both bitter and sweet. Its flavor mellows with cooking.

Chinese Broccoli (Gai-Lan)

Available year-round.

Gai Lan varies slightly from one variety to the other, each plant produce thick green stems. When the plant matures they produce underdeveloped flower buds. The younger plants have crisper tender stalks and leaves. Gai Lan has a flavor similar to broccoli, both bitter and sweet. Its flavor mellows with cooking.

Blanched Ginkgo Nuts

Available in the fall season.

Ginkgo nuts are nut-like edible kernels grown from the ginkgo biloba tree, a native Chinese plant. The nut-like is soft, yet chewy textured kernels that can be eaten either toasted or in dishes in the Asian cuisine. The kernels are quite low in calories comparing to any other tree nuts such as walnuts, almonds, etc. Ginkgo nuts may be used in small quantities as medicine instead as a major food source unlike as the other edible nuts and seeds.

Fresh Lily Bulbs

Available in the fall season.

Lily bulbs are available in both fresh and dried forms. Fall is the best time to harvest fresh lily bulbs. Look for the white and plump scales variety called Lanzhou, which has the best-tasting flavor.

Lily bulbs are considered a gourmet ingredient. The scales that form the bulbs are crisp and sweet, which are perfect for salad topping and/or simply stir-fry. When used in sweet or savory soups, note they turn velvety and creamy, sometimes even melt into liquid form.

Jicama

Available year-round.

Jicama has a texture similar to an uncooked potato, yet more juicy and crunchier. The taste is similar to a water chestnut yet much sweeter. Its appearance is an oval-shaped root vegetable, related to legumes. The size of this vegetable range from one to five pounds.

Water Spinach (On-Choy) Chinese Spinach

Available year-round.

Water spinach has thin, hollow stems with long, flat, arrowhead-shaped leaves. Water spinach has a similar flavor and succulent texture to common spinach, with mild, nutty undertones. Its young shoots and leaves are preferred to mature leaves as they are texturally more tender and sweeter in taste.

Taiwan Bok Choy Cabbage

Available year-round.

Taiwan bok choy has large, oval-shaped light green leaves. Compared to the common bok choy in the market, Taiwan bok choy is leafier. The leaves are tender and rich in earthy flavors with a hint of bitter green undertones.

Yu Choy

Available year-round.

Yu Choy is often confused with Chinese broccoli but may be distinguished by Chinese broccoli’s unique white flowers.  Yu Choy is more tender and sweeter.  The leaves and flowering stems are often cooked in a similar manner to Bok choy, stir-fried, steamed, blanched or added to soups.

Sin-Gua, Loofah

Available year-round with a peak season during the summer months.

Chinese Okra (Sin-Gua Loofah) has a torpedo-shaped pod when harvested mature. The pods are pale lime to lime green color, their exterior has furrowed lengthwise grooves.  The flesh bears a tender spongy membrane with many small white seeds. Okra is known less for its lean flavor and more for its sticky sap.

Turmeric Root

Available year-round.

Turmeric is the root stem of a tropical blade-leafed plant. The flesh is a vibrant carrot orange color and its flavor warm and peppery with very distinct bitter undertones.

Watercress

Available year-round.

Watercress is often overlooked, leafy green that is a close cousin of mustard greens, cabbage, and arugula. In summer, the plant produces white flowers as it matures. Fresh watercress has a peppery and mustard flavor profile.  One of the culinary aspects of watercress is its versatility. It can be used as a salad green and in soups; it’s also a standard ingredient for sandwiches.

Mung Beans Sprouts

Available year-round.

Bean sprouts are the young shoots of the mung bean. Bean sprouts offer crunch and a subtle nutty flavor with a high water content.

Chinese Spinach

Available year-round.

The flavor of Chinese spinach is very similar to standard spinach varieties with the red variety being sweeter and more intense. True to most leafy greens, the younger leaves are preferred for raw consumption while the larger, older leaves are typically steamed or sautéed.

For information about seasonality and availability, please inquire with your VegiWorks’ Sales Representative for more details.