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liuzhou

Chinese Vegetables Illustrated

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The canned pumpkin we get here is actually butternut squash.  Since it is technically a pumpkin they are allowed to call it that on the can.  It looks very similar to the first pumpkin picture you posted. 

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More confusion today.

 

冬瓜 (Mand: dōng guā; Cant: dung1 gwaa1) directly translates as 'winter melon', but refers to what you may know as the 'wax gourd', and not what is elsewhere known as 'winter gourd'. It is also known regionally as also called ash gourd, white gourd, winter gourd, tallow gourd, ash pumpkin, etc

 

Benincasa hispida

 

350343150_dadonggua.thumb.jpg.a50216aa89700d27eebb6b6a5c5881dd.jpg

 

These can reach up to 80 cm/32 inches in length. Used as the pumpkins in the last post. Again it is available in slices or pieces.

 

152613793_dongguaslices.thumb.jpg.fe54c09d90e905cbaa87a19956cc8fec.jpg


Another variety of wax gourd that we have is 节瓜/節瓜 (Mand: jié guā; Cant: zit3 gwaa1). Much smaller at only 8 to 10 inches / 20-25cm in length  this is the jointed wax gourd. It is used in the same ways as its large siblings.

 

jiegua.thumb.jpg.93a929c5acad9cdfd5c2b853585bacdb.jpg

jiegua

 

We do get a range of what people call the winter squashes that come in many colours and shapes. I'll cover them when they turn up. It isn't winter here, yet.

 


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Leaving the 'gua' family aside for a bit, I move on to Dioscorea polystachya, Chinese yam also called cinnamon-vine.

 

This is a flowering vine native to China but now growing all over Asia. It has been  introduced to the USA where it is considered an invasive species. All the more reason to eat it. In Chinese it is known by several names.

 

The most common variety is 淮山 (Mand: huái shān ; Cant: waai4 saan1) or 山药/ (Mand: shān yào; Cant: saan1 joek6), meaning 'mountain medicine' (as it is used in traditional Chinese medicine). Occasionally,  these two names are combined, giving 淮山药/ (Mand: huái shān yào; Cant: waai4 saan1 joek6).

 

Unlike others yams, this one can be eaten raw. It is eaten so in Japan, but as I've mentioned the Chinese are particularly averse to raw foods.

 

shanyao.thumb.jpg.1529b27b3d7671f5229d59bbae4081e7.jpg

 

These sticks are about 12"/30cm long. Peeled and sliced they are used in soups and hot pots like potatoes. I find them over-starchy and tasteless, but for some reason they are popular. They are also made into a paste used for thickening soups and stews.

 

There is a second variety, called 铁棍山药/ (Mand: tiě gùn shān yào; Cant: tit3 gwan3 saan1 joek6) 'iron rod mountain medicine'. These are considerably longer and thinner - up to two feet / 60 cm long or more.  They taste the same.

 

1717949071_ironrod.thumb.jpg.596d2b5eecfa605674ddf10a3b85d227.jpg

 

 

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The Chinese yam vine (above) also produces bulbils where the leaves join the stem. These are also edible, if tasteless. In Chinese they are referred to variously as 山药豆/山藥豆 (Mand: shān yào dòu; Cant: saan1 joek6 dau6*2), 'yam bean'  or 山药蛋/山藥蛋 (Mand: shān yào dàn; Cant: saan1 joek6 daan6), 'yam egg'. However, here in Guangxi they are usually called 凉薯  (Mand: liáng shǔ; Cant: loeng4 syu4) which literally means 'cold potatoes'. They are only very vaguely potato-like and again, more starchy.

 

1618835561_yambean.thumb.jpg.c1c36820614daa6e4d1309e5f6ed3c69.jpg

 

I bought and prepared them once, but never saw any reason to revisit.

 


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I love this thread.

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Me too.   It is a perfect example of what makes egullet so unique and so special.  I wonder just how many countries are represented by posters?  Be fun to see a world map of them.

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Pisum sativum.

 

Give peas a chance.

 

Peas are grown in China but I rarely see fresh peas in their natural state in the pod, or out. On occasion, they turn up pod-free in bags in some supermarkets. I bought them once. They were so old that all the sugars had turned to starch and they were rock hard. Boiling them for hours made no difference whatsoever. Inedible. Also frozen fresh peas are unheard of. Even more occasionally, I have seen canned peas, but not very good ones.

So where are all these peas going. Well, mainly into the snack market. Roasted salted and flavoured peas are widely available. So of them I used to buy and enjoyed, but I got scared of how long my teeth would last biting into them, so I haven't had any for years.

 

597595938_salteddriedpeas.thumb.jpg.11e60aadc3902942fcea38b0f3f4b6d2.jpg

Salted dry roasted peas

 

1647522423_bagbeans.thumb.jpg.1092a78f41e84204594eaac05ba2e3b7.jpg

 

What we do get however as a non-snack item, but more a vegetable are pea sprouts 豌豆芽 (Mand: wān dòu yá; Cant: wun2 dau6*2 ngaa4), made just like all other bean sprouts.

 

1403179712_peashoots.thumb.jpg.d5463ad5a66581843be2bfed8d1c8b65.jpg

 

We also get pea greens 豌豆苗 (Mand: wān dòu miáo; Cant: wun2 dau6*2  miu4), used as is any other green vegetable.

 

wandoumiao.thumb.jpg.3e316cf74636c81e1b1037cbeb0e0a58.jpg

 

What we do get in pods are sugar snap peas, Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon. In Mandarin Chinese, 甜豆 (tián dòu), meaning 'sweet bean', but in Cantonese 蜜豆 (mat6 dau6*2), translating as 'honey bean'. These an the next example are both sometimes referred to by their French name 'mange tout', meaning 'eat all', as the pods are almost often eaten along with their content.

 

1543910434_sugarsnappeas.thumb.jpg.edf31ca7d29ee85a7702ad2fef7844f6.jpg

 

And, snow peas, Pisum sativum var. saccharatum, 荷兰豆/荷蘭豆 (Mand: hé lán dòu; Cant: ho4 laan4*1 dau6*2) , which means 'Holland beans'. I have no idea why they think they are from Holland. These are frequently cooked with squid and other seafood. The stems and leaves are also eaten.

 

 

helandou.jpg


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8 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

English peas from Guatemala

 

The mind boggles.

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Arctium lappa

 

Superficially similar to the Chinese yams a couple of posts back, this is in fact a different species altogether

 

burdock.thumb.jpg.395ab78dfdb475f6a984e36130acd5fb.jpg

 

What you are looking at is burdock root, or 牛蒡 (Mand: niú páng ; Cant: ngau4 bong2). Burdock is in the same family as sunflowers, and is related to the artichoke. Only the roots are eaten here, but I'm told the young flower stems are also edible. The roots are up to 1metre/ 3 ft 3 in) in length. These are usually sliced and stir fried, but sometimes used in hot pots. Kind of potato-y but crisp.

 

Like almost everything, burdock is used in traditional Chinese medicine. I also remember, very clearly, drinking dandelion and burdock as a child.

 

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oops, I already did this one here.

 


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54 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Prompted by @Anna N's post in the Dinner topic, I'm bringing this one forward in the list to be gone through.

 

Perilla frutescens

 

Perilla comes in two main varieties:  P. frutescens (var. frutescens), often called Korean perilla; and  Perilla frutescens var. crispa also known as  shiso in Japan. The plant, a member of the mint family, probably originated in China. It was first mentioned in Chinese literature around 500 AD and was introduced to Japan in the 8th or 9th centuries.

 

We get both varieties, and they come in various colours: green; purple; and purple and green. What we get most here is the purple/green. Known in Chinese as 紫苏/紫蘇 (Mand: zǐ sū; Cant: zi2 sou1) in which the first character means 'purple'..

 

859493977_purpleperilla.thumb.jpg.881de84d44c020791a4f38daa9dc3bec.jpg

 

The leaves are most commonly stir-fried with garlic. It is also pickled in China, like kimchi. The seeds are used in in both Japanese and Korean cuisines, but I've never seen them on sale here.

 

I loved the purple/green perilla that would be featured in the herb baskets in Saigon...

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Do Chinese people pickle burdock? One of my favorite commercial pickles from Japan is burdock root.

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1 hour ago, Lisa Shock said:

Do Chinese people pickle burdock? One of my favorite commercial pickles from Japan is burdock root.

 

Yes, they do, but I've only ever once seen it as a commercial product.  It is possible people prefer to pickle it at home themselves, though. The Chinese pickle everything!


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1 hour ago, KennethT said:

I loved the purple/green perilla that would be featured in the herb baskets in Saigon...

 

Me too.

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Zizania latiflora

 

1275588796_jiaosun.thumb.jpg.43f922cd251a293c0c725adcda3e7d30.jpg

 

I’m not sure what to call this in English. A number of resources label it as “Manchurian wild rice”, but Manchuria as a name is anathema to most Chinese as it refers to the puppet state set up by the Japanese invaders in the 1930s. The area is known to the Chinese as 东北 (literally “east-north”), so I’m going with Dongbei Wild Rice Stems.

 

dongbei.thumb.jpg.8f1658983ca514f63b74478d25dd535c.jpg

 

In Chinese, they go by many names, but the most common seems to be 茭笋/茭筍 (Mand: jiāo sǔn) ,  茭白 (Mand: jiāo bái;)  茭白笋/茭白筍 (Mand: jiāo bái sǔn). I have been unable to find the Cantonese name in any of my dictionaries. Maybe  they don't know about it.

 

Peeled, they look a lot like bamboo shoots and have been called “water bamboo” in older English texts, but are totally unrelated to bamboo – despite the Chinese name including 笋/, which usually refers to bamboo shoots. Many Chinese people think they are bamboo, too.

 

They are the stems of a wild rice plant once an important grain in China. Today the plant is virtually extinct in the wild and the grain is no longer eaten, but the stems are still cultivated as a vegetable.

 

The stems are infected by a fungus, Ustilago esculenta, which causes them to swell into juicy tubers. These are peeled, sliced and usually stir fried, although it can be eaten raw. The vegetable retains a certain crispness when stir fried, a desirable quality in Chinese cuisine.

 

The importation of the stems to the USA is illegal as there are fears the fungus would spread to native wild rice varieties. It is classified as an invasive species in New Zealand.

 


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18 minutes ago, heidih said:

So do they have a flavor or more textura impact?  In the US we know wild rice as the seed of an aquatic grass traditionally harvested by the Native Americans. Perhas same plant used diferently.  http://www.mooselakewildrice.com/store/aboutwildrice.phpLik

 

Wikipedia says that it's a very similar species to North American wild rice. Looks like some of the Chinese variety made its way to New Zealand and is considered an invasive plant there.

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1 hour ago, heidih said:

So do they have a flavor or more textura impact?  In the US we know wild rice as the seed of an aquatic grass traditionally harvested by the Native Americans. Perhas same plant used diferently.  http://www.mooselakewildrice.com/store/aboutwildrice.phpLik

 

1 hour ago, Lisa Shock said:

 

Wikipedia says that it's a very similar species to North American wild rice. Looks like some of the Chinese variety made its way to New Zealand and is considered an invasive plant there.

 

The taste is very mild and slightly herbal, so yes, it is more valued as a textural thing.

The Chinese one is related to the North American one; they are both zizania, but different sub-species, Zizania latiflora in China; Zizania palustris  in North America.  The reason the Chinese variety is banned in the US is because of the yeast, not the wild rice.

I did mention that it was considered an invasive species in NZ.

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When I was in China, I had that in restaurants many times. I would say they tasted like asparagus both in flavor and texture, somewhat milder and more tender.

 

I was told that in China, they are purposefully infected with the organism so that the stems would swell.  As was mentioned above, they are banned in the US because of the infection.

 

However, I was able to find frozen ones sometime ago in Chinese stores. They were labels as Bamboo shoots.

 

dcarch


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Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench

 

Okra, okro, ladies' fingers, bhindi. 秋葵 (Mand: qiū kuí; Cant: cau1 kwai4).

 

For the first twenty years in China, I never saw fresh okra here. One shop occasionally had dried okra to be consumed as a snack. It did not rehydrate well, at all. 

 

477326267_driedokra.thumb.jpg.6822d6d766359dd51a028370753387a2.jpg

 

Then two years  ago it suddenly appeared. At first, the pods were way too old and long, meaning that the things were so stringy as to be inedible. Now, they've worked it out and every supermarket carries it. Which pleases me greatly, as I like it. I have no idea, though, how Chinese cooks use it. I'll ask. (I did enjoy a dish of grilled venison with grilled okra in Vietnam earlier this year.)

 

0kra.thumb.jpg.be9ef28db1041e3a8270d0e6784ed2fa.jpg

 

There is also a red variety which we get from time to time. Sadly, it turns green when cooked.

 

1753480076_redokra.thumb.jpg.9ccbfa4ddbf989a4d9b17eeec06bdaef.jpg

 


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Camellia sinensis.   (Mand: chá; Cant: caa4)

 

40755917_longjingtea.thumb.jpg.e5bf4f92d69c8400c543c44c4646fdd6.jpg

Longjing Tea- 龙井茶

 

Yes, tea. You are probably thinking I've lost the plot. Tea a vegetable? Well, technically it is vegetation. So, why not eat it? Some people on the interwebs claim that it is unpleasant to eat. Bitter and indigestible.

 

The Chinese are having none of that. Green tea, 绿茶 (Mand: lǜ chá; Cant: luk6 caa4) is used as a vegetable.

 

One favourite is this shrimp and green tea dish. I first ate it 22 years ago in Hunan and my local Hunan restaurant has it on their menu. I occasionally make it, too. In Hangzhou in east China, the same dish is made using Dragon's Well Tea, 龙井茶/龍井茶 (Mand: lóng jǐng chá; Cant: lung4 zeng2 caa4) which grows just outside the city. That is what I used in the dish below.

 

660026388_prawnsgreentea.thumb.jpg.d7b598dec68793b1656c1b4796d8140f.jpg

 

Tea is also used in baking such as in these sesame coated green tea cakes, made using a matcha-like preparation. We can also get Japanese matcha, 抹茶  (Mand: mā chá; Cant: mut3 caa4) in bakery supply stores.

 

Sesame_coated_green_tea_cakes.thumb.jpg.acbb5473b81de1bdcdba8feb743e5438.jpg

 

茉莉花茶 (Mand: mò lì huā chá; Cant: mut6 lei6 faa1 caa4) leaves are used to smoke duck in Sichuan's famous Smoked Tea Duck, 漳茶鸭子/漳茶鴨子 (Mand:zhāng chá yā ziá; Cant: zoeng1caa4 aap3 zi2).

 

 


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Today, I'm full of beans.

 

Phaseolus vulgaris

 

Green beans. 四季豆 (Mand: sì jì dòu; Cant: sei3 gwai3 dau6*2), literally 'four season beans.

 

2083219314_silidou.thumb.jpg.de595788726dbcdfe691b0dd9c94bfe6.jpg

 

This covers many beans sold and consumed in the pod. It includes runner beans, yardlong bean*, and hyacinth beans. They are known by several English names, including French beans, string beans,[ snap beans, snaps, and sometimes by the French name haricots vert.

 

China grows 80% of the world's green beans. And eats most of them itself. They are stir fried, pickled, and used in soups.

 

* More on yardlong beans in the next post.

 

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(Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis)

 

Although yardlong beans were included in the previous post, they are more usually known here as 豆角 (Mand: dòu jiǎo; Cant: dau6 gok3).

 

Alternative English names include asparagus bean,long-podded cowpea, Chinese long bean, bodi/bora,] snake bean, and pea bean.

 

Quote

Despite the common name of "yardlong", the pods are actually only about half a yard long, so the subspecies name sesquipedalis (one-and-a-half-foot-long; 1.5 feet (0.50 yd)) is a more accurate approximation.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                       - Wikipedia

 

We get three varieties here.  青豆角 (Mand: qīng dòu jiǎo; Cant: cing1 dau6 gok3), green beans:

 

1790082431_doujiao.thumb.jpg.d33b22aa494e7d0faa5a5f4dffdbef52.jpg

 

红豆角/紅豆角 (Mand: hóng dòu jiǎo; Cant: hung4 dau6 gok3), red beans:

 

391651243_hongdoujiao.thumb.jpg.9822d98e4d26169b8b84f3d7aa71f8e4.jpg

 

and, 白豆角 (Mand: bái dòu jiǎo; Cant:  baak6 dau6 gok3), white beans.

 

819860578_baidoujiao.thumb.jpg.b3eb10f1e3904941cb8e758b81032157.jpg

 

They are usually cut into bite size pieces and stir fried. They can also be found pickled and dried.

 

664123840_DriedLongBeans.thumb.jpg.28aaec38277634cc35fa4f9dc4305657.jpg

Dried Long Beans

 


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    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
       
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and lead us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
       
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
       
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
       
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known  for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
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