Oriental Veg or Asian Veg

Pak Choi Bonsai

Grow your own Oriental Vegetables from seeds, if you like oriental food, you probably
cook it at home sometimes, but it is hard to get the same tangy flavours and
fresh bite of the vegetables that you get in a restaurant. Using packs of stir
fry vegetables from the supermarket are not going to get you any nearer to your
favourite flavours either. Not only are they seriously overpriced when you
consider that they are usually just a pre-chopped mixture of cabbage, onion,
mushroom and red peppers but they are also bland and often rather wilted and
stale. If you make up your own mixture you can get nearer to restaurant quality
but for real taste, crunch and variety, it is so much better to grow your own,
as well as being so much more fun.

Chinese Cabbage Wa Wa SAi

Nicky’s Nursery has one of the largest
selections of oriental vegetable seeds available anywhere and whilst you will
recognise some, others might need a little research before you try cooking with
them. Happily for the adventurous cook, not only does the website give a
description and usually a picture, there are also hints on how to cook the
various oriental vegetables on offer. Scorzonera is not known to many people,
for example, but it may be more familiar as black salsify. It is a root
vegetable which can be used as a coffee substitute but in a stir fry it gives a
nice solid crunch as well as a hard-to place earthy flavour.

Scorzonera

Some of the oriental vegetables you can
easily grow at home can be used in various ways, depending how they are sown.
For example, if you want to use them as salad leaves, or young to wilt into a
cooked dish, you should sow the seeds of komatsuna torasan (a spinach-like
leaf) thickly and harvest as soon as they are large enough. For a more
substantial vegetable, they should be sown more thinly (or thinned out) and
left to mature, when their leaves are quite strongly flavoured and can stand
alone as a vegetable, lightly stir fried with some sesame oil and the dressing
of your choice – they go particularly well with teriyaki.

Komatsuna Torasan

Komatsuna Torasan

Radishes of various kinds are a staple
oriental vegetable and you can use the root or the leaves in many dishes. Some
of the roots can be really hot and so it is always a good idea to use sparingly
at first – you can always use more next time! Rat tail radish is a fun vegetable
to grow – the pods grow above ground and can be used in a variety of dishes and
can be used raw or cooked. The plants look very unusual with their pods which
terminate in a thin tail (hence their name) and could be placed in a border if
you don’t have much room – they will certainly get a lot of attention. If you
are growing for looks as well as taste, a bed of various mustards would look
great and because they grow so fast you can keep them going all season with
careful staggered sowing. Flaming Frills is a really flamboyant mustard with
purple serrated leaves and whether you pick it really young as a salad leaf or
leave it to get a bit bigger to stir fry it (it just needs wilting for a few
seconds) it has a mild mustard flavour which enhances any dish but goes
particularly well with chicken.

Radish Rat Tails

There are loads of reasons for growing
your own oriental vegetables – the fun of seeing what they look like before
they arrived chopped up on your plate; trying new flavours and having fresh
food at your fingertips are all important, but the main one has to be cost. A
packet of seeds of an oriental vegetable mix will have up to 400 seeds in it
and will cost less than a bag of stir fry vegetables from the supermarket. It
just has to make sense to grow your own!

Siamese Dragon Mixture

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