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cooking Chinese vegetables

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Dear Friends ,

My name is Susmita golam . Bangladeshi by bitrth . Very interested in Chinse cooking . ( Vegetables , Meat & soups ) . But I want to learn some chinese Fusion cooking which suits to our Bengali- Indian teste . Since Chinese Vegetables is difficult to find in our shops I want to replace our vegetables in Chinese cooking , that is why I am seeking suggestions .
In our country , generally available vegetables are : Cucumber ,Papaya, Carrot, Green Capsicum , Potato, Onion, Garlic, Peas,Green Beans , Kidney Bean, Cow Pea (Vigna Sinensis) , Ridge Gourd, Pointed Gourd, Snake Gourd , Bottle Gourd, Yellow sweet Pumpkin, White Pumpkin , Eggplant , Okra, Mushrooms.

Winter Vegetables ( November – February) : Cabbge , tomato ,Spinach, Cauliflower ,Brocoli , Green Onion or Spring Onion ( Scalion) , Turnip, White Radesh , Red Beet .

Seasonal : Durmsticks, Taro, sometimes Water Lily Sticks are also available.

Please advise which vegetables in my list I can replace to cook Chinese vegetables. At least , it will come closer taste . Also pls suggest the Vegetable combinations (which vegetable goes with what veg ?)

Thanks
Susmita
Bangladesh

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  1. Use your own taste as a guide, We like pea pods very much. They are a specific variety grown for sweet, tender pods. The peas are usually tasteless so they are picked before the peas get big. In the United States, sugar snap peas are very popular now but they might not be available in China but I use instead of pea pods. They are sweeter. The pods are tender and you can let them grow until the peas inside are a little bit big.

    I think peas goes well with carrots, cabbage, brocolli and any onions and mushrooms.
    We do not cook cucumbers or radish. Green Capsicum are known here as bell peppers. I think they are sweeter if they ripen to red and then I would use with any of the other vegetables. I think green capsicums are a little bit bitter but they are used with pineapple, onions and sometimes ripe tomatoes to make what we call a sweet and sour dish. I like them very much with onions in other dishes. They also go well with potato.
    But, our local Asian restaurant and others use green capsicum with sweet vegetables like pea pods. Again, decide what taste combinations you like.
    I am not familiar with the gourds. Perhaps they are similar to what we call summer squash/zucchini.
    Red beet is strong tasting and stains other vegetables. I serve it separately. We also eat young beet greens when they are tender.
    Chinese greens usually have either a strong, slightly bitter taste because they are in the mustard green family. Other greens are sweeter like choy sum and are more similar to cabbage and broccoli.
    I like to use sweet potato or orange/yellow winter squash in curry dishes but the recipe might call for white potato. I also add onions.
    If the vegetable is mild tasting, I think it can be mixed with any other mild tasting vegetable and maybe one strong tasting one such as garlic and onion.
    If a vegetable is strong tasting like spinach, I think it is good with onions and mushrooms and maybe carrots but I do not usually like to put two strong tasting vegetables together. I would not put spinach and green capsicums togehter.

    I am sure others will have different advice but that is ok. Cook what tastes good to you.

    1. susmita,

      Just about every vegetable you list that is available to you can be (and sometimes are) used in Chinese cooking -- either braised, stir-fired, or in stews.

      For example, you list many types of gourds (incl. ridge). Ridge gourds are very common in Chinese cooking, the most basic recipe being to cut them in in half lengthwise, julienne, and stir fry with some minced ginger, garlic, salt and then finish off by braising in some chicken stock.

      If what you want are suitable "replacements" or substitutes, it might help us a bit more if you provided the Chinese dishes you are trying to replicate using indigenous vegetables found more common in Bangladesh.

      Good luck.

      Now, if you want

      12 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        How about Papaya and cucumber ? Here in Bangladesh , our chinese restaurents serves one vegetable gravy dish(white color) with fried rice . It is so delicious. The vegetable they use only one veg , it seems they used cucumber Or Papaya . I think cucumber . I am still not very sure . and the gravy is white , i think they use cornflour to thicken the curry .

        Can you give me some idea on this ?

        Thanks
        susmita
        Bangladesh

        1. re: susmita

          I bet you the vegetable is a gourd of some type -- most likely what is commonly called an Ash or White Gourd. In Mandarin it is pronounced "Dong Gua" (pic below).

          When the gourd's flesh is cooked (or simmered in some liquid) the flesh takes on a very soft slightly crunchy texture than can be similar to cucumbers. Also, the when it is cooked it does produce a sort milky liquid.

          When we cook it, we first skin the gourd, remove the seeds, cut the flesh into chunks, braise with some chicken stock, garlic, ginger, salt and white pepper, and if you prepare, thicken with a corn starch slurry.

          Hope this helps.

           
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Dear ipsedixit ,

            Thank you for your reply. This kind of gourd is available in our country . We call it Lau / Chal Kumra / Kodu. Yellow Pumpkin is called Mishti (sweet) Kumra. One question, if Chicken stock is not in hand then can I use Chicken stock cube ? How and when to use Chicken stock cube ? OR If I want to make it full Vegetarian ;dont want to use Chicken stock then what should I replace ? Sometimes , Chicken stock and Chicken cube may not in hand , in that case what I can use to bring the same good taste ?

            any kind of tips and advices on Chinese vegetable cooking will be highly appreciated .

            Thanks
            Susmita
            Bangladesh

            1. re: susmita

              If the Chicken stock cube package indicates ingredients starting with the most abundant, then the first ingredient should NOT be salt, rather chicken in some form.

              1. re: susmita

                If you don't have stock on hand, just use water (or if you got any handy or leftover soaking liquid from soaking dried shitake mushrooms). Vegetable stock works as well.

              2. re: ipsedixit

                'braise with some chicken stock'' - What is braise ?

                1. re: susmita

                  To braise means to cook slowly either meat or vegetables or both in a little fat and very little liquid on low heat for a long time in a closed pot. One, two or more hours depending on the recipe.

                  1. re: susmita

                    Once you have stir fried the vegetable (in this case the gourd), pour in some liquid (chicken stock, or just water) into your pan or wok, and cover with a lid. Let it come to a boil, then reduce the heat so that it is at a gentle simmer. This allows the flavors to blend together cohesively, while also cooking and tenderizing the vegetable you are cooking.

                    For the gourd, simply let it "braise" (after it's come to a full boil), for about 5 mintues, or until they are tender.

                    Hope this helps and good luck.

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    in our country we always use ajinomoto / testing salt for chinese cooking . As we know that in Chinese cooking must to add ajinimoto otherwise it will not taste like them (remain bland taste, I also noticed that ) .But I heard it is not always good for health . Do you too, always use ajinomoto in your cooking to give a yummy taste ?
                    Thanks
                    Susmita
                    Bangladesh

                    1. re: susmita

                      Susmita,

                      I would avoid using Ajinomoto, or monosodium glutamate (MSG), in any of your dishes (Chinese or otherwise). While it does enhance the flavor, it may pose other health risks. Good luck.

                      1. re: MinaJ

                        I'm chinese, and we never use MSG in any cooking at home. It's mostly associated with poor restaurant cooking where it's often cheaper to produce a flavour via MSG than traditional spices and sauces. Wikipedia says MSG was 'created' only in 1909 in Japan.

                      2. re: susmita

                        Susmita,

                        Yes, we use MSG (or ajinomoto). There's nothing wrong with it. Some people claim an alergic reaction, but if you have none of those, absolutely use it.

                        Use it judiciously and it can make a good dish, a great dish. Use too much, and your family may disown you.

                        Good luck and let us know if you have other questions.

                2. One Chinese dish you could make is called Di San Xian. It is made with potatoes, eggplant and bell peppers (capsicum). Googling will get you some recipes.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: GEC

                    can you help me with the web address .

                    Thanks
                    Susmita

                    1. re: susmita

                      Hi Susmita...

                      http://www.beijingmadeeasy.com/chines...

                      Click on that link and you'll get the recipe for Di San Xian and a few other Chinese recipes;

                      Click on this link to get a list of other Chinese recipe links:
                      http://www.google.com/search?sourceid...

                      1. re: Gio

                        thank you very much .

                        Susmita
                        Bangladesh

                  2. I Thank you all .

                    Susmita
                    Bangladesh