5 surprising Chinese Spring Greens
Also known as: Chinese cabbage, qīng cài (blue-green vegetable" in Mandarin).
Flavor: Very mellow, with its own unique mild, peppery spice. Similar to cabbage.
Texture: Bok choy leaves are famously tender and crisp, while the stalks are crunchy, firm and juicy. Depending on the cultivar, the leaves are dark green or yellow-green and the stalks yellow-green or off-white. Bok choy comes in mature and baby sizes. Both are tender, but the baby variety is especially so.
Best cooked: Stir fried, braised, steamed, sauteéd, or simmered in soups. One of the most versatile and widely-used greens listed here. Leaves can be eaten raw in a salad.
Also known as: Bayam, Chinese spinach, Amaranth, phak khom suan, rau dên, red honchoy. Flavor: Similar to spinach. En choy is related to beetroot, and its color comes from antioxidants called betalains. Texture: Crisp leaves and crunchy stalks. Best cooked: Lightly steamed, stir-fried, or used raw in salad. Recipes: Spinach Salad with Beets and Walnuts Available: Spring through autumn.
Also known as: Gai lan, Chinese kale
Flavor: Similar to broccoli, but stronger and slightly more bitter.
Texture: Wide, flat leaves like collards and thick, crisp-tender stalks.
Best cooked: Blanched or steamed (served with oyster sauce), or blanched and stir-fried.
Recipes:Stir-Fried Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Pork Belly
Latin name:Chrysanthemum coronarium
Also known as: crown daisy, tong hao
Flavor: A wild but subtle mix of tangy, bitter, herbal, cooling, and grassy. Suitable for anyone who enjoys chrysanthemum tea.
Texture: Soft and feathery, with flat, serrated leaves, and slightly crunchy stalks.
Best cooked: Young greens can be eaten raw, but most sold in markets will be too mature and bitter, and should be lightly steamed or blanched. Tn Japanese cuisine, they're often added to soups or cooked tempura-style
Recipes:Chrysanthemum Greens with Sesame Seed Dressing
Available: Spring to autumn.
Snow Pea shoots
Also known as: Snow pea tips
Flavor: Refreshing like snow pea pods, but grassier, fresher, and flavorful enough to be cooked without aromatics.
Texture: The stalks are crisp and hollow, while the leaves are tender.
Best cooked: Stir-fried, steamed, or added to soups.
Recipes:Stir-Fried Snow Pea Tips
Available: Year-round, best from early spring to early summer.
Where to find: Chinese groceries.