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Chinese Vegetables

The Chinese love to eat vegetables and the leafy green vegetables of the brassica family are their special favourites. They boil or stir-fry them, but only for a short time so that the vegetables retain both their crispness and their vitamins. They frequently use a little meat to enhance the taste of vegetable dishes, and conversely use some vegetables in meat dishes to provide an interesting texture.

Freshly harvested vegetables have firm stems and leaves with no bruises. Always keep fresh produce cool to prevent drying out. Try wrapping fresh vegetables in layers of paper towel and storing in the bottom section (the coolest part) of the refrigerator - they should stay fresh and green for several days. Avoid storing too close to the freezer compartment.

Choy Sum

Wong Bok

Pak Choy

Choy Sum Green - Chinese Flowering Cabbage

What it is: One of the most popular Asian vegetables high in calcium and phosphorus. When stir-fried, it retains the flavour and vitamin content and provides the perfect complement to meat and prawn dishes.

What to do with it: Soak briefly in water to remove dirt. For Chinese cuisine, leave whole unless greater than 20cm in length. Lightly steam or stir-fry with a dash of oil and garlic to bring out its delicate flavour. Young flower shoots can be used in salads.

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Wong Bok - Chinese Cabbage

What it is: Native of China which tastes like a sweet, mild version of western cabbage. It has a long shape with highly nutritious crinkled green and white leaves.

What to do with it: Cut up the crunchy heart and use raw in salads, or shred or cut into chunks and add to soups and stir-fries in the final stages of cooking. It absorbs flavours wonderfully and Asian chefs often team it with rich meat dishes.

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Pak Choy - Buk Choy, Bok Choy

What is it: Nutritious member of the cabbage family cultivated in China for over 1400 years. Its loose, dark green leaves and succulent white stalks have a mild, refreshing flavour.

What to do with it: The outer leaves are relatively tough and used for soups or deep-frying. The tender inner section can be sliced thinly and used raw in salads, stir-fried or parboiled and served with an oyster sauce dressing.

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