Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Jul 23, 2000 02:04 AM

A Strange Thing Happened on the way to the Fruit&Veg

  • m

Some posts back I promised to search out Chinese greens and report my findings to the board. Before leaving, acting on a strong hunch, I checked out Jen Kalb's link from the Giant Squash posting and it contained most, if not all, the answers. Please use the link below and thanks, Jen , for unwittingly answering our questions before we'd even asked them. The information is much more complete than anything I could have gathered alone.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks, Maria.

    Fascinating that kangkong is related to sweet potatoes! Who'd a thunk it?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Michael

      I think the best thing about this is now we all have the Latin names for these vegetables, which is invaluable in doing a more in-depth search for information about individual items.....

    2. thanks


      1. Well, I just got back from a visit to a couple of my favorite Asian markets, and I'm more confused than usual. The large market had "bok choi," which looked pretty standard; "b. bok choi," which was smaller and had the light greenish center; "s. bok choi," which looked like a small version of regular bok choy; "tw. bok choi," which had a wider, ridged center with leaves a little closer in appearance to napa. These were in addition to "on choi," which had round stalks that lead into the leaves, and "gai choi," which seemed to have thicker centers to the leaves. arrrggghhhh! What's more, I saw some bok choy lookalike in a Korean market, but the leaves were less glossy than most bok choys, and it was labeled "Korean Vegetable." The next time I go the the large market, I may take a pen with me and write down the Vietnamese names for each of the chois in case that is any help.

        Sometimes I think that all these veggies are like the variations that we recognize with wine grapes. If all some folks knew was the word, "grapes," and then found themselves in a market where there was chardonnay, merlot, sangiovese, mourvedre, grenache, riesling, and a few different kinds of cabernets and pinots, they would be about as confused as I am about chois.

        5 Replies
        1. re: e.d.

          The grapes analogy is dead-on. Once you come to grips with the fact that most greens are cultivars of either the Cabbage or Mustard clans, it really becomes painless.
          In most cases, what tastes good with one bok-choi will do for the rest, ditto the mustards. And don't think about it too hard; it's not going to kill anyone if they don't cook these greens the way somebody's grandmother in Fukien did it.
          The "weirder" vegetables like Ohn-choi( Eng.= Water Spinach) and the big and small pea shoots, being higher-profile and somewhat trendy these days may be easier to find specific recipes for, but again, you can't go wrong by tossing any of these things in some hot oil with a little salt and ginger or garlic to your taste. Start from there to learn the basic taste of the vegetable and its cooking time and then decide for yourself what you'd like to add the next time around. The only thing I've never heard of is combining the "smellies" (foo yee, shrimp-paste) with any menbers of the cabbage or mustard family . Perhaps it's too pungent and gets unbalanced....

          1. re: e.d.

            > If all some folks knew was the word, "grapes," and then found themselves in a market where there was chardonnay, merlot, sangiovese, mourvedre, grenache, riesling, and a few different kinds of cabernets and pinots, they would be about as confused as I am about chois.

   REALLY wanna make me feel stupid, don't you!! I can name about 12 chois, and probably distinguish 6 of those, but the only kinds of wine I've ever heard of are: White, Red, Rosé, Rhine (sp?), and Reisling. I know from experience that that these last two are the only ones sweet enough to be consumed by humans; I'm usually more concerned with keeping the terms "Wine" and "Welches" straight.

            Actually, I HAVE seen "chardonné" somewhere once or twice, and have recently acquired the terms "merlot" and "cabernet" from an episode of Frasier. [Used one in my last post as if I had any CLUE what it meant!] And I suppose I have read somewhere that champagne and Don Perignon (sp?) are actually wines in disguise.

            OK...before anyone flames...I am indeed sincere on my ignorance of the above (I can name 23 different knock-offs of KAHLUA, though). But what puzzles me is that I thought Rhine, Reisling, and Napa were *REGIONS*. The first two you list with your "types of grapes", and the second as yet another bokchoy clone. Say it ain't so?!?!?!?! I know California wine is rumoured to be dreck (to which I would add *FRENCH* wine), but does it really come from pakchoi?!?!?!?!

            Happy in my pass me the Bailey's...for a REAL drink....

            1. re: Jim Wong


              Just a brief clarification. By napa, I meant napa cabbage--also called Chinese cabbage etc. etc. Yes, it is also a California wine region (a county north and slightly east of San Francisco). Riesling is a grape originally grown in Germany, often in the Rhine region. What makes things even more confusing is that American vintners can use names taken from European regions (e.g. burgundy, rhine, chablis) to label wines that have almost nothing in common with the wines from the European region.

              If you like slightly sweet wines, let me also suggest you try chenin blancs, gewurtztraminers, muscats. Like Rieslings, these often go well with Asian cuisines, particularly foods with some fiery spice. And while California versions of these are often decent, you can also sometimes find good versions from the state of Washington.

              1. re: e.d.

                Hey, great response e.d.!! I thought I was baiting a flame, but here I am getting recommendations on sweet wines. :>

                I do recall the name "Gewürtztraminer" actually, although at the time I thought that was a BRAND name for some Rhine or Reisling wine. Actually, I still can't keep Rhine and Reisling straight -- I swear I even saw one labelled "Rhine Reisling" or the like.

                And MUSCAT...I thought that was some kinda ***RAT*** ?!?!?!?! Didn't the Carpenter's do a song about that....?

                Hehe...I'll stop now. Thanks for the recs; I'm gonna go have a look at that Chenin Blanc. Although, I'm not sure if I like "slightly" sweet wines; it seems to me I like all-out MEGA-sweet ones. Someone once recommended Schwarzkatz and Liebfraumilch (not sure if those are TYPES or BRAND NAMES. They sound too silly to be REGIONS, at least), but I thought they were way to bitter. Even Rhine and Reisling seem to be hit and miss with me, and to this day, I can't keep track which is SUPPOSED to be the sweeter of the two. I thought for a long time it was Reisling, but then some bitter Reisling/sweet Rhine pair got me thinking the OTHER way around again.

                To be honest, I do prefer grape juice though....

                1. re: Jim Wong

                  Sorry to ramble on more about sweeter wines, but you do seem to have tried several and not been consistently happy. Hope the following helps:

                  Schwartzekatz and Liebfraumilch are low quality German wines made from whatever grapes are available plus enough sugar to raise the sugar level to what is needed to make sufficient alcohol. If you want to drink good German wines, buy only wines labeled "Qualitatswein mit Pradikat" (sp?). The grapes for these wines have enough natural sugar content so as not to need added sugar. This means usually that the grapes are more flavorful and mature. The driest (but still somewhat sweet) of these wines will be called "Kabinet", and sweeter versions will be labeled "Spatlese" and "Auslese." There are even sweeter, desert wines, but they don't go with most foods and are prohibitively expensive. If the German wine is made using Riesling grapes, it will say "Riesling" on the label, but that is not essential. The label will also have where the wine is from and the brand name of the wine. While these are important to serious students of German wine, focusing on buying "Qualitatswein mit Pradikat" (note: the "mit Pradikat" is important, "Qualitatswein" by itself is not as good) is a good way to start exploring German wines.

                  In American wines, I would advise avoiding wines labeled "Rhine" or "Chablis," because a maker can put any grape (yes, even Thompson seedless) into the wine. And that's one of the reasons why you never know what you are getting. Of course, if you have a brand you like, by all means . . . But usually you are safer buying wines from California or Washington labeled by the grape variety, like Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Muscat Canelli, etc. Usually these varieties will not be sour or bitter and should give you at least a light touch of sweetness. Hope this helps a little.