There are many reasons to tuck into Asian greens. To start with they are crunchy, delicious and nutritious. And if that’s not enough, they are extremely easy to prepare, quick to cook and versatile – simply steam them, add them to stir-fries, soups or even casseroles. They are part of the same cruciferous celeb family (the brassicas) as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower. Like these, they are rich in vitamin C and folate and provide you with minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese, magnesium and some iron and antioxidants like beta-carotene. If you still need a nudge to try them in your cooking, they have a couple of key attributes that spell benefits for weight loss and blood glucose management being low in kilojoules and a good source of fibre.
Here are some tips on using Asian greens in your cooking from Dr Jenny Ekman of the NSW Department of Primary Industries
- Buk choy is like two vegetables in one – juicy crunchy edible stems and dark green leaves with a mild peppery flavour. Wash and chop leaves and stems before cooking. When stir frying or steaming, add stems first as they take a little longer to cook. Pak choy is a green stemmed variety with a sweet mild texture that’s great in a stir fry, added to soup or simply steamed. Baby buk choy is used in a similar way to pak choy, but you can serve it whole.
- Choy sum has a mild flavour, crunchy stems and soft leaves. Wash and chop the whole bunch and stir fry or steam or add to soups, stews and even a curry. Baby choy sum is the dwarf version.
- Gai choy (Chinese mustard) is the one with the peppery bite. There are numerous varieties: some have thick stems and large crinkly leaves, others are small and delicate and can be added raw to salads.
- Gai lan (Chinese broccoli) has robust, dark-green leaves and sometimes small, edible broccoli-like florets with flowers. You can eat the lot— stems, leaves and flowers can all be stir fried, steamed or added to soups and casseroles. Cut thick stems in half and add before the leaves as they take longer to cook.
- Wombok’s (Chinese cabbage) mild flavour and crunchy texture makes it perfect for coleslaw, cabbage wraps, stir fries, and soups.