Five Asian Vegetables
Five asian vegetables that are found in grocery stores today -- though their names and appearance may be unfamiliar, they are easily incorporated into traditional cuisine.
Pak Choi. Grown in Eastern Asia for thousands of years, pak choi is just making its way to American groceries. It is sometimes called ‘celery cabbage’ because of its thick stalks and veined leaves that grow in heads. The stalks are not as fibrous as celery, but very tender and are good cooked lightly in a stir fry. The leaves can be shredded and used in traditional cabbage recipes, or prepared like any other type of green.
Snow Peas. These are one of the most familiar of the Asian vegetables. Interestingly enough, the Chinese borrowed them from the English and incorporated them into their native cuisine. The tender pods are eaten whole as they lack the tough inner membrane of regular peas. They can be either steamed or lightly sauteed.
Asian Eggplant. These are smaller vegetables than the traditional American types. They can be purplish-black, or lavender in color. They tend to be long and slender, usually about two inches in diameter and up to nine inches long. Flavor is milder than other varieties and they have very tender skin so there is no need to peel them before preparing. They can be grilled, fried, roasted, stir fried, and even pickled.
Asparagus Bean. Sometimes known as yardlong bean in the United States, these beans have a flavor much like asparagus. They closely resemble regular snap beans, but have a more dense texture. They can be stir fried, steamed, or prepared any way that other types of beans are cooked. Their rather unique flavor is making them a favorite in American produce sections.
Daikon. This is a root crop, much like a radish, that can be traced back to ancient China. They are long and narrow and range in color from white to creamy yellow to yellowish green. Daikons store well in a refrigerator for up to several months. Flavor varies from mild to pungent and the texture is crisp. Peeled and sliced, they can be added raw to salads and vegetable trays (they are good with dip). They can also be boiled or steamed like turnips.