fbpx

Save Essential News!

Donate Today!

Donor Supporters

Jessie Ong

Alhambra Source provides objective and important news reporting for our community.

Efren Moreno, Former Alhambra Mayor

Thank you Alhambra Source for truly informing the residents of Alhambra.

Jeff Maloney, Alhambra City Council Member

The Source has become an important source for news, public interest, and serious journalism in our community. Keep it up!

Sara Harris

As a career journalist and EJ advocate, I see community-based media like the Alhambra Source as crucial to democracy and equality.

Chris Olson

I support Alhambra Source as often as I can because I believe a free and independent press is vital to the democratic process. No other news outlet with high journalistic standards consistently covers the stories and issues that matter to our community.

Adele Andrade Stadler, Alhambra City Council Member

The Source is a great independent newspaper that celebrates the communities and is not afraid to ask the tough questions!

Cliff Bender, Vice President, Alhambra Education Foundation

I want to know what's going on in my community- News, events, and human interest stories. The Alhambra Source gives me the information I need.

Joyce & Oscar Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group

We support Alhambra Source because this online news source is vitally important in engaging, informing and educating the residents of Alhambra.

Laura Vasquez

Alhambrans need to know the truth about our area!

Michael Lawrence, Alhambra Arts Commissioner

Keep bringing on the stories. The Source has given us so much and I am happy to donate to such an important part of our community.

Karsen Luthi

Thank you for creating Alhambra Source and providing timely reporting of important local news. Fight on!

Mr. Konnyaku

I support news reporting that is unbiased and informative. Really enjoy the excellent coverage on local city council and planning commission meetings.

Guadulesa Rivera

Alhambra Source unifies the community and keeps us involved.

Erwin Lee

Such a valuable source of what’s happening in city where we live. Objective reporting that informs us and allows us to come to our own conclusions.

Asian greens demystified

Location

Alhambra's Sunday Morning Farmer's Market

60 S. Monterey St.
Alhambra , CA 91801 United States

While I'm proud of my Asian heritage, I admit that I have very little knowledge when it comes to some of the ingredients involved. How can this be? My Chinese parents were always cooking so I should be familiar with the produce and preparation. This familiarity that, despite having a fondness for, never quite interested me enough to research it further (you don't quite appreciate something that you grow up eating everyday). But this apathy ends now! This will be the first in a series of reports dedicated specifically to the Asian greens that we'll come across at the Alhambra farmer's market. So with a humble curiosity (and armed this handy guide from Saveur magazine), let's get familiar with some of these greens.Photos by Kevin ChanThe majority of the greens I come across fall in the turnip greens category, which are under the umbrella of Brassica rapa. The "Brassicas" are famous for giving us the oilseeds that produce rapeseed/canola oils. (Because of the original taboo name, canola is the market friendly name given to rapeseeds). While turnip greens (along with mustard and collard greens) are tradtional fare in southeastern US cooking, those varieties are the leaves of true turnips, radishes and rutabagas. The Brassica rapa variety is grown strictly for their leaves and greens.

Photos by Kevin ChanJapanese broccoli reminded me of Nanohana, aka Yu Choy (I wasn't quite sure what variety of vegetable this was, but it felt similar enough). These greens have a thicker stem that are tender with a succulent vegetal sweetness. The yellow flowers are completely edible, and have a very pleasant floral sweetness.

Baby bok choy are greens can either be the young, immature varieties of bok choy, or a tiny variety cultivated to maintain their miniature bodies. The white stems remain super tender, but the mild mustard flavor is still all there. The benefit of the miniature bodies means the whole vegetable is edible and tender, and they make for faster preparation and cooking times. Recognized as the "cabbage" of southern China (in Northern China it's Napa), these turnip greens are probably the common Asian vegetable you'll find in most supermarkets. These are greens I grew up with, having them pretty much every dinner with a steamy bowl of rice.Photos by Kevin Chan

Ta Gu Choy, (aka Broad-beak Mustard, Spoon Leaf Mustard, Tatsoi, Taasai) is also in the Brassica rapa mustard family. The texture is more like the baby bok choy but with a longer stem. The greens grow in an unusual pattern, appearing much more asymmetrical than bok choy. The stems are still very tender, so they still cook quickly.

When picking tender greens like bok choy or ta gu choy, look over the leaves to make sure they're a vibrant green and are free of brown/damaged spots (you're going to find leaves that have been munched on critters, hard to avoid but not a deal breaker). The stems should be firm and tightly packed. For vegetables like the Japanese broccoli, check to see that the stems are still firm and tender. The flowers are good indicators of freshness, they should still be an impressive yellow with a subtle flowery vegetable scent (weird, but oddly appealing). Only wash the greens when you are ready to cook them, otherwise store them in the coldest part of your fridge in a plastic bag for up to three days.Photos by Kevin Chan

How to eat all these leafy greens? You can eat them raw, highlighting their mild mustard flavor. But if you do decide to cook them, do it hot and fast with a bit of salt and lots of garlic. You can add oyster sauce/sesame oil if you feel like it, but I prefer the taste of the vegetables as they are. Steamy Kitchen has a beautiful illustrated guide to a simple bok choy stir fry.  The baby bok choy especially deserve a chance to let their succulent subtle bitterness shine. The thicker stems on the Japanese broccoli require a longer braise, so be sure to cook them first and add the leaves later on. Traditionally you can first blanch the greens, then finely chop them in boiled dumplings/wontons (for you vegetarians, here's a vegan recipe using shitake mushrooms & bok choy). The Japanese broccoli can be used in hearty fried noodle dishes, like Pad See Ew

For something slightly unorthodox but still just as tasty is an Asian summer salad with tomatoes and a spring onion/ginger dressing, or mustard vinagerette based bok choy cole slaw. Even crazier is a bok choy pesto, used as a topping for pork burgers!  The greens can be torn and added to soups and broths, or even a quick deep fry tempura style. And if you end up having a lot of greens leftover, you can pickle them, making a satisfying condiment to hearty stews and meat dishes.

What are your favorite Asian vegetables, and how do you like them prepared? Let us hear about it in the comments or send them our way at [email protected]!

Thank you for reading our story! Alhambra Source is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our newsroom reports fact-based quality journalism that educates, informs and engages our diverse communities - with no paywall. Support our mission and donate today!

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

Leave a Reply

2 thoughts on “Asian greens demystified”

  1. Glad to see you do this, so many things @ the market I can’t identify in the Asian leafy greens category. Any help is appreciated! Looking forward to the next one.

  2. Caution on eating raw bok choy: too much can cause or lead to hypothyroidism. See http://bodyodd.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/05/19/4380005-back-away-from-the…

Stay Informed.

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter.

For fact-based COVID-19 coverage, AUSD and Alhambra City Hall happenings that impact your life subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter.

Do you have a question you would like to ask Alhambra candidates?

Ask your Alhambra City Council OR your Alhambra Unified School Board Candidates a question ahead of the 2020 elections!