Asian Vegetable Herb Guide


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Amaranth

 

Botanical Name:

 

Amaranthus tricolour

 

General Description/History:

  • Amaranth can be sold as a grain or as fresh leaves: this page only refers to leaf amaranth
  • Commonly used in many Asian recipes: the Chinese prefer red amaranth, while green is more popular in Japan, India and Taiwan
  • Buy bunches with the roots attached as these will last longer
  • Store in the fridge for a few days by placing in a sealed plastic bag

A mild tasting annual plant, the most common variety having red centred leaves, there is also a smaller leafed green variety available in summer), it is widely available and cooked in much the same way as spinach. Both its leaves and stalks can be stir-fried.

 

It can also be blanched and seasoned with salt, olive oil and lemon juice as a cooked salad.

 

Alternative Names:

 

Bahasa: bayam

Chinese: een choi or edible amaranth

English: Chinese spinach

Greek: vlita (green variety)

Thai: phak khom suan

Vietnamese: rau dn

 

 

 


Amaranth - Green

 

Description:

  • Smaller leafed variety with dark to light green oval leaves with pointed tips
  • Undersides of the leaves may be slightly hairy
  • can be used as a substitute for spinach
  • Best eaten raw, i.e. in salads
  • Older leaves have a sharper taste and are better in stir-fries or soups

 

 


Asian basil

 

Description:

 

This is a tropical variety of sweet basil and is recognizable by its purple stems and flower spikes and distinct aniseed perfume. It figures prominently in Thai curries and seafood stir-fries and is added to Vietnamese salads and soups, particularly pho.

 

English: Thai basil, sweet basil

Chinese: hsiang tsai

Bahasa: selaseh

Thai: horapa

Vietnamese: rau qu

   

Nutritional Value:

 

A good source of vitamin C and dietary fibre.

  

Storage/Handling:

 

0C and 90 -100% relative humidity. Keep covered and away from refrigeration fans.

 

Consumer Storage:

 

Store in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper.

 

Growing Area:

 

QLD - Atherton, Brisbane Outer Suburbs, Bundaberg,

NSW - North Coast

VIC - Melbourne Metropolitan Area, Werribee

SA - Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Plains

WA - Perth Metropolitan Outer Areas

NT - Darwin, Katherine

 

 


Bitter Melon

 

Botanical Name:

 

Momordica charantia

 

General Description/History:

 

This cucumber-shaped, pale green vegetable, thought to be native to India, is covered in wart like bumps and eaten when firm and not fully ripe. It is favoured throughout Asia for its health-giving and body-cooling properties. It can be salted or blanched to remove some of its bitterness and stir-fried or braised with meat. It is often stuffed with pork and served in broth. It can also be curried, pickled or boiled and in Southern India is salted and dried.

 

Alternative Names:

 

Bahasa: peria

Chinese: foo gwa

English: bitter gourd or balsam pear

Thai: mara

 

Growing Areas:

 

QLD - Tropical North

NT - Northern Territory

 

 


Bitter Melon Leaf

 

Botanical Name:

 

Momordica charantia

 

General Description/History:

 

The tender leaves and stems of this vine can be cooked in soup or stir-fried.

 

Alternative Names:

 

Bahasa: daun peria

Chinese: foo gwa yip

English: bitter gourd leaves

Thai: bai mara

 

Growing Areas:

 

QLD - Tropical North

WA - North

NT - Northern Territory

 

 


Ceylon Spinach

 

Description:

 

Ceylon Spinach is a tropical vine that can reach a height of 10 metres. Only the leaves and young stems are eaten; they are used in salads, steamed and cooked in soups, in much the same way as spinach.

It has a mucilaginous texture like okra, hence its name slippery vegetable.

 

English: Malabar spinach, slippery vegetable

Chinese: saan choi

Bahasa: remayong

Thai: phak plang

 

Growing Areas:

 

QLD - Fassifern Valley, Lockyer Valley, Stanthorpe

VIC - Melbourne Metropolitan Area, Sunraysia

SA - Adelaide Plains WA Perth Metropolitan Outer Areas

 

 


Chinese Broccoli

 

Description:

  • Large, crisp, dark green leaves
  • White stalks
  • Small florets
  • Does not look like western style broccoli.

Select clean crisp leaves with compact florets.

 

All parts of this vegetable can be eaten. Wash and snap florets and leaves from the stem. If the skin of the stem is tough, peel to reduce cooking time, slice as required. It is most commonly blanched or stir-fried. It is delicious served with oyster sauce.

 

Chinese broccoli requires plenty of water and generous feeding for a quick maturing process.

 

Originates in China.

 

English: Chinese kale, white flowering broccoli

Chinese: gai lan

Thai: pak khana

 

Growing Area:

 

QLD - Redland Bay, Rochedale, Sunshine Coast Hinterland

 

 


Chinese Cabbage 

 

Description:

  • Light green/white leaves
  • Tightly packed into an elongated head
  • Similar in flavour to ordinary cabbage although, slightly sweeter.

Select firm, heavy cabbage with unblemished, fresh, crisp leaves.

 

Chinese cabbage otherwise known as Wong bok, can be finely shredded or tom into bite size pieces to be used in stir fries or chow mien. Add raw to coleslaw and salad. The crisp white stalks can be used like celery. Chinese cabbage leaves can also be steamed lightly and used to wrap a filling, like a spring roll.

 

Chinese cabbage is a cool weather crop that prefers short days. It is grown and harvested in a similar way to cabbage.

 

Chinese cabbage is one our most ancient vegetables. Because it has been cultivated for thousands of years, Botanists think the Celts bought it to the British Isles, but it was grown in the Far East long before that time.

 

English: Peking cabbage, Napa cabbage, Wombok

Chinese: wong nga baak

Japanese: hakusai

Thai: phak kwaang tung

  

 

Growing Area:

 

QLD - Cleveland, Lockyer Valley, Redland Bay, Stanthorpe

NSW - Bathurst, Camden, Dareton, Gosford, Griffith, Hunter Valley, Windsor

VIC - Mornington Peninsula, Werribee

TAS - North West

SA - Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Plains, Riverland

WA - Perth Metropolitan Outer Areas

 

 


Chinese Flowering Cabbage

 

Botanical Name:

 

Brassica rapa var. parachinensis

 

General Description/History:

 

This is the most common of Asian greens. It is sold in bunches with smooth bright green stems and elongated leaves with clusters of yellow flowers. It needs only brief cooking to wilt the leaves and keep the stems firm but tender. Most commonly blanched and served with oyster sauce, it can also be stir-fried or sliced and added to soups.

 

Alternative Names:

 

Chinese: choi sum

English: Chinese flowering cabbage

Thai: pak kwang tung

 

Growing Areas:

 

QLD - Gympie, Sunshine Coast

VIC - Melbourne Metropolitan Area

WA - Gin Gin, Manjimup, Perth Metropolitan Outer Areas

  

 

Nutritional Value:

 

An excellent source of vitamin C and dietary fibre 70kJ/100g.

  

 

Storage/Handling:

 

0C and 90 -100% relative humidity.

 

Consumer Storage:

 

Store in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper.

 

 


Chinese Celery

 

Description:

 

Darker in colour and smaller than Western celery, this plant could be mistaken for continental parsley if it not for its strong celery flavour. Its leaves and stalks can be added to meat soups or stir-fries. The leaves are also used together with parsley and mint in many Middle Eastern dishes.

 

English: Chinese celery

Arabic: karfas

Chinese: kun choi

Bahasa: daun saderi

Thai: kuen chai

Vietnamese: cn tu

 

Growing Area:

 

QLD - Gatton, Stanthorpe, Toowoomba NSW Gosford, Hunter Valley, Windsor

VIC - Melbourne Metropolitan Area

SA - Adelaide Plains

WA - Perth Metropolitan Outer Areas

 

 

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