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What is your favorite asian produce?

  • m

I am going to the farmers market tomorrow and there are lots of Japanese and Chinese produce booths. I just don't know what I should try and don't know what to do with it after I buy it!

Any suggestions are appreciated.

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  1. Pea shoots! If you've never had these, you're in for a treat. I stir-fry mine lightly, add a sprinkle of salt and some toasted sesame oil. They taste like peas, are slightly crunchy.

    U toy or choy sum - known by different names in different dialects. This is used a lot in Chinese cooking, stir-fried and finished with a little oyster sauce. Love these, they taste sweet and a little bitter, very full.

    Gai lan or gai lan cai - also a very popular Chinese veggie. It can be cooked with oyster sauce, or with finely chopped garlic. Taste is similar to choy sum, a little stronger.

    There are fancier ways to cook all these vegetables, but with good fresh greens I like to enjoy the flavor without too much dressing up.

    2 Replies
      1. re: cheryl_h

        Pea shoots sauteed with lots of garlic is as good as food gets.

      2. Melly -- how fun!

        I like all the crunchy Japanese vegetables for a salad. My two favorites are radish sprouts (available in many supermarkets now), and gobo (which needs to be "prepared" before using). I try to buy it already orange and prepared, and then just cut it up for crunch.

        I also love fresh lychees. I believe they are also quite plentiful now, but the season is ending soon.

        The farmer's market sellers are extremely knowledgeable and helpful...ask away!

        Happy shopping, and enjoy!

        2 Replies
        1. re: liu

          is it true that you can leave the skin on the gobo...just wash it?

          1. re: kare_raisu

            Hi, kare_raisu! True! The skin of the burdock (gobo-Japanese) is very flavorful, and if it is thin, it does not have to be peeled. Do scrub it, however, and the peel will turn a rusty color.

            The inside flesh is grayish-white; if you decide to peel it because it is thick, do it immediately before cooking or the gobo will turn brown.

            Either way, fresh burdock does have to be cooked.

        2. I love all Asian mushrooms and greens.
          I also dig gingko nuts (esp. in congee), water chestnuts and burdock root.
          Not a huge fan of bitter melon, though. I'll eat it, but I won't seek it out.

          1. All of it!! :) I especially love...

            * Chinese Broccoli
            * Long Beans
            * Japanese Eggplants
            * Asian Mushrooms :)


            1. I had so much fun today!

              I got Long Beans, Choy Sum, Eggplant, chinese chives (?), bok choy, lemon cukes, basil (75 cents for huge bunches),parsley, shrimp (heads on),mushrooms,walla walla onions (or so they said),tomatoes (a buck a pound), carrots (those little fat sweet ones), and flowers.

              I made basil pesto...yummy. I'll be making stir fry tomorrow. Thanks for such great feedback.

              1 Reply
              1. re: melly

                You lucky girl! I like long beans in a salad. I found a recipe online which is similar to the one I use:
                It might help to get you started. I often toss some cooked eggplant in with it - the spicy dressing goes well with both veggies.

                Chinese chives are also known as garlic chives. They stir-fry well, though they're not often eaten by themselves. They make wonderful chive dumplings with shrimp. Try this link:
                There are versions which are pan-fried as well as steamed. With a dipping sauce of soy, vinegar, sesame oil and chili oil they are wonderful.

              2. Cheryl...you are my friend indeed! I will do the long bean salad. I can do the chive dumplings too! Oh boy.

                1 Reply
                1. Chinese broccoli

                  Chinese mustard greens

                  Winter melon

                  Lotus root

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Stuff garlic into diver scallops, then hollow out a hole in the centre of a winter melon slice, put the stuffed scallop in the winter melon, and simmer in shantan soup... mmmmmm...

                  2. I really like that Chinese/Vietnamese shredded sweet/hot pork. There are plenty of others I like but that's what I thought of when I read your question.

                      1. Kaffir lime leaves!!!

                          1. Long Gan, (dragon eyes) fruits are a real treat if you've never had them before. A vietnamese childhood friend of mine used to get them packed in syrup in a can and we would pour them over ice cream... yum!

                            The fresh variety comes in a brown shell/skin which you peel off, and then cut or eat the fruit away from the round pit in the center.

                            1. Fresh water chestnuts! Greenswise, I like gai lan (Chinese broccoli), but I also buy a lot of Chinese mustard greens.

                              1. Lychee, my favorite fruit in the world.

                                Asian pears, especially the ones called "Butterscotch."

                                Kaffir lime leaves.

                                Thai chili peppers.

                                Flowering chives, I have to have them in my stir fries.

                                Also baby bok choy, pea shoots and leaves and other greens. They're all great.

                                Eggplants, the long light purple eggplants and the small round tart/bitter Thai eggplants.

                                Fresh young ginger. It's much better than the older ginger root that you normally use.

                                Galangal root which, while similar to ginger, has a unique flavor.

                                I'm salivating just thinking about this.

                                1. Does anyone here know a shantan soup recipe and/or chinese sausage recipe?

                                  1. If never had, try the young luffa sponge gourd. They are the long cucumber-like things w/ heavily longitudinally ribbed skin. Put in soup or stir fry. Very good.

                                    1. Another vote for lychees. I enjoy dried lychees very much, sometimes hard to find.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Ooh, dried lychees? What do they look like? In what section of the market do you find them?