I’ve come to really enjoy growing Asian vegetables. We grew a few things last year then added more this year. We’ve found them all to be well-suited to our climate and soil, and delicious to boot.
This year we grew mizuna, several varieties of pac choi, Tokyo Bekana, senposai, tatsoi, Yukina savoy, and a couple of varieties of Chinese cabbage.
We grew mizuna in the spring as an experiment and it was a great success. We planted it by seed and it came up reliably and quickly. It is a very prolific cut-and-come-again veggie. Here are a couple of recipes that we enjoyed. Mizuna in Korean Dressing. Mizuna with Steamed Red Potatoes and Goat Cheese. It’s also great raw in salads.
Pac choi (also known as bok choy) is great in stir fries. It too is hearty and easy to grow.
Tokyo Bekana looks a lot like leaf lettuce, but it has a mild version of the distinctive mustardy taste of Asian greens. We treated it like lettuce and enjoyed it in salads.
Senposai is like collard greens, but a bit sweeter and milder. We enjoyed it in salads, soups, sauteed and as a cooked green. It can be used any way collards can be used. I discovered this one through Pam Dawling who speaks very highly of it in her excellent book Sustainable Market Farming (highly recommended).
Yukina Savoy is a like a larger version of tatsoi. We usually put tatsoi in salads or stir fries. You could do that with Yukina Savoy as well, of course. Cherie cooked it in a soup that was amazing. Here’s the recipe: Chickpea Soup With Tomatoes and Greens.
Our Chinese cabbages (sometimes called Napa cabbages) were excellent. We grew Michili and Blues. They grew to whopping sizes and were delicious raw, right out of the garden. We found that they keep extremely well in the fridge, which is great since it takes a while to finish one.
In addition to being delicious, Asian greens and veggies tend to be nutrient-dense. There are lots of health claims being made about their value in preventing illness. They may or may not be true. It’s a well-known fact that cancer rates are much lower in Asia where these kinds of veggies dominate diets, but whether that’s because these veggies prevent cancer or because the standard Western diet causes it, or some combination of those things, I can’t say.
As much as we’ve come to love these veggies, getting people to try them has been a bit of a challenge. For the most part those who do end up coming back for more.
I got the catalog from Kitazawa Seed Company this year. They specialize in Asian Veggies and Greens and the catalog is full of enticing possibilities. I plan to add another thing or two this year.
Thinking of spring planting on a winter morning…