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Asian Greens - available in NZ since 1800s

in New Zealand since the Chinese first settled here in the late 1800s.

CHOY (菜) is the Chinese word for any leafy vegetable. Asian greens have also been called cabbage – even though they don’t resemble Western cabbages. The names of Asian vegetables can be confusing as they are called different names in different areas of China. For example, Chinese white cabbage is called bok choy, buk choy, pak choy or baak choi. These vegetables go well with the usual Asian condiments – soy, ginger, black bean, hoisin and oyster sauces.

Hello! My name is Choy Sum

CAN YOU EAT CHOY SUM FLOWERS? Absolutely! The yellow flowers are perfectly edible.

IS CHOY SUM CHINESE BROCCOLI? No, it isn't! That term is more commonly applied to gai lan. The two are similar in many respects, but distinct enough in flavour and cooking requirements.


CAN YOU EAT GAI LAN LEAVES? Absolutely. They're healthy, easy to cook, and delicious. They do cook faster than the stalks, so you may want to separate them from the particularly thick bottoms and cook them separately for for less time.

CAN YOU EAT GAI LAN FLOWERS? Absolutely! The white flowers are perfectly edible.

ARE GAI LAN AND Choy Sum DIFFERENT? Definitely. While they look somewhat similar, choy sum is a different (though still related) vegetable, with thinner stalks and a more pronounced mustard-like flavour.


CAN YOU EAT BOK CHOY RAW? You can, though it's certainly less common. Young, particularly tender bok choy can be nice in salads (etc.). Just make sure it's very clean!

CAN YOU EAT BOK CHOY FLOWERS? Absolutely! The flowers are perfectly edible. It is worth noting however that many vegetables in the cabbage family can become quite bitter after flowering, so you might want to avoid plants that have produced a lot of flowers and/or tall flower stalks.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOK CHOY AND PAK CHOI? Nothing! The difference in names is simply a result of trying to best transliterate the Cantonese name into English. The two terms are interchangeable.

Many Asian vegetables are a good source of vitamins A, C and K, and contain a dietary significant amount of potassium.

The entire plant is generally eaten (with the exception of the roots). Leaves, stalks, and even flowers are all edible.

Asian Greens are in New Zealand since the Chinese first settled here in the late 1800s. Our Imperfect Rescue Partner - The Fresh Grower by Allan Fong is the largest asian greens grower in NZ.

We're grateful to working with Allan's team since 2020.

In 2016, Allan won a prestigious Australasian award acknowledging him as an outstanding leader and innovator across productivity, sustainability and his contribution to the community and people.

Now nothing can stop us to eat these delicious and sweet greens. Here's three universal ways ( by Sean Bromilow author of to cook all asian greens, once you learn how to do one dish you don't need take aways. Well, still need take aways some goo dumplings and noodles, and many many more fancy asian dishes.


This is possibly the most familiar of all Chinese cooking methods, though it is often done poorly. There are three basic principles to good stir-frying:

1. Be prepared 2. Get the wok as hot as you possibly can 3. Cook a small amount of food very quickly

The first point is easy enough to understand - you're going to need to cook very quickly in a very hot wok, so you need to make sure that everything is ready to go.

The second point is, in essence, what makes stir-frying unique. It's also the most challenging aspect of stir-frying in the home kitchen. I won't go into huge detail here, but cooking your food very quickly over very high heat helps to maintain texture and contributes a flavour commonly called 'wok hei.' (锅气) This Cantonese term basically describes the combination of flavours imparted by Maillard reactions (non-enzymatic browning between amino acids and sugars occurring in the 140-165°C range) happening in the wok. Without enough heat, the Maillard reactions don't occur, and wok hei is lost. The dish still cooks, but the end result tastes more like it was steamed or sautéed.

The third principle has a lot to do with the second - if you put too much food into the wok, you can't get enough through the wok to cook it quickly or evenly. Moreover, the water the the ingredients release as they cook starts to pool in the wok, causing your ingredients to simmer or braise instead of stir-frying. With a smaller amount of food, that moisture has a chance to evaporate, meaning that the ingredients remain in contact with the very hot wok.


Unlike stir-frying, which requires a fair bit of care and preparation, braising requires only that you prepare a good braising liquid and that you know how long to cook your vegetables for.

Your braising liquid is going to be the primary source of flavour in your dish, but it should still allow the sweetness and natural flavour of the vegetables to shine through.

If you do use stock, try to use something low in salt, as the soy sauce contributes a lot. Sugar is another common addition, as it mellows the soy sauce and brings out the flavour of the vegetables. If spices are added, be sure to add them with care; some Chinese spices (especially cassia and star anise) can contribute a lot of flavour very quickly. If you're not cautious, you can easily overdo it.

Cooking time is a fairly simple consideration. Thick stemmed vegetables like gai lan will take the longest to cook (though the leaves may cook too quickly - consider adding them separately). Medium-stemmed vegetables like choy sum and bok choy will take a moderate amount of time to cook.


Our third and final technique involves two very easy steps - blanching, and dressing with a sauce.

Blanched and dressed vegetables land somewhere in between braising and stir-frying in terms of flavour; the veggies are soft and tender, while the sauce is intense and relatively concentrated. Regardless, the results are really easy to love.

This really only require that you know how to boil water. Despite this, a lot of Chinese restaurants seem to treat blanched vegetables like an easy cop-out, choosing to slop some oyster sauce on and call it a day. Luckily, you only need to put a little more attention into the sauce in order to end up with something absolutely out-of-this-world. Garlic is also the soul of blanched.

So what's the ultimate trick to good blanched and dressed veggies? Timing. You want to move from pot to plate to table in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. But honestly, it's not difficult to do - in fact I would rank this among the easiest of all cooking methods to master.

So there you have it. Three Chinese vegetable cooking methods. These techniques are delicious and amazingly versatile. You have plenty leafy green in this week mystery box, you can use one or all of these methods.


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