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Jul 14, 2005 09:43 AM

what are all those greens in the Asian supermarket?

  • h

Can someone direct me to a book or web site that talks about all those unusual fresh greens I see in the Asian supermarket and how to use them?

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  1. I have an excellent book called Asian Vegetables with illustrations and recipes. I got it at markdown at Barnes & Noble.

    1. Seed companies often have nice websites with pictures and cooking suggestions. Here are some links:

      Here's a link to a good Australian site that describes lots of Asian vegetables:

      And, finally, here's a link to an page that shows a number of books about Asian vegetables:

      1. Asian Vegetables, one of my favorite topics! Here are my recommendations, I'd love to hear what others have to say.

        The Cook's Thesaurus

        Access to Asian Vegetables

        Also, sometimes seed companies' websites have good info on Asian Veggies.

        Books I Don't Own:
        The Asian Grocery Store Demystified by Linda Bladholm
        This is supposed to be a "take it with you to the store and figure out what everything is" guide. However, I did not buy it because it is less promising than it looks- it doesn't provide names in enough languages and the small black and white pictures are less than helpful.

        Cook's Guide To Asian Vegetables by Wendy Hutton
        Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: The Essential Reference: 500 Recipes, 275 Photographs by Elizabeth Schneider
        These two are pretty new, I just haven't had a chance to peek at them yet. Amaranth to Zucchini looks fun, but not Asian-focused. It's also huge and expensive.

        Asian Ingredients : A Guide to the Foodstuffs of China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam by Bruce Cost
        Beyond Bok Choy: A Cook's Guide to Asian Vegetables by Rosa Lo San Ross
        I've come accross these two in the bookstore, but they've never really grabbed me for some reason. Cost's book is a bit of a classic, I believe, so it might be worth another look.

        Books I Own:
        Useful Books
        Asian Greens by Anita Loh-Yien Lau
        Beautiful, color photographs in the front (although not of every single vegetable), veggie names given in many languages. Recipes show you what to do with them. I use this book quite a bit.

        Ken Holm's Asian Ingredients
        I think this is out of print, but I use mine fairy frequently. It has detailed colored photographs and handy descriptions for most Asian vegetables found at a Chinese market (winter melon, water spinach, silk squash, bok choy & cabbage varieties, etc). It has just American and Latin names.

        The Periplus World Cookbooks (The Food of Vietnam, The Food of Japan, etc
        )A lot of Asian cookbooks will have sections in the front on vegetables, but none of mine are consistently useful except this series. They always have a little section in the front with color pictures of the fruits, vegetables and other foods of that country. They often look a lot like what they look like in the market- roots on, in a bunch. A lot of other cookbooks will get a close-up of a drop of water on the side of a squash or something like that- pretty but totally useless to a beginning cook!

        Books For Fun:
        Lonely Planet World Food Guide series is very fun and informative. Strangely, it's not something that is so useful to take either on a trip or to the store, but reading it for fun will give you a good sense for the cooking culture of a place. They often have pictures and descriptions of vegetables.

        The Exotic Fruit and Vegetable Handbook by Oona van den Berg
        This might be hard to find, because it is published in London (which also makes the recipes a bit hard to use). It has gorgeous pictures of things like winged bean, tindori, eddoe. It's a fun book- the pictures of fruit are especially stunning. It will get you excited about Asian fruits & veggies, but it is not a big selection of veggies and it has Latin names but not all the Asian names.

        Asian Vegetables: From Long Beans to Lemongrass, A Simple Guide to Asian Produce Plus 50 Delicious, Easy Recipes by Sara Deseran
        I use this as a cookbook, but it's not great as a guide.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mehenry

          Wow! This looks like agreat list. Tnx.

          1. re: mehenry
            Epicurious In Fremont

            Mehenry and Nancy Berry,

            Thank you for taking the time to document such EXCELLENT resources! This actually came in time since we were trying to identify to some friends the name of this vegetable that we referred to as Chinese Spinach, but we weren't sure of the official name. With your help, we found out that it is called Edible Amaranth. This vegetable is very tasty when stir fried or cooked in soup!

            With your inspiration, here are some other resources that I would like to share:




            Hope you find these helpful.

            Bon Appetit!
            "Epicurious In Fremont"


            1. re: mehenry

              Aren't those little Periplus books great? I have one a Vietnamese friend gave me because she does not use books, it is on Spicy Salads and is a god-send in the hot weather we had been having. I need to find more of the books.

            2. The best info I have gotten has been from the people buying the greens in the market. Ask how they are going to use it and experiment. The Eliz Schneider book Amaranth to Zuchini is a great veggie idea book in general and does encompass the "asian" greens.

              1. The most common use of greens @ the Asian markets at my house is stir-fry. I haven't come across any that I cannot prepare this way. At times, we also put them in soups, like making spinach soup. Blanching is another common way for cooking some of the greens. We usually put soy or oyster sauce on blanched greens.