As the bounty of seasonal produce disappears from grocery store shelves and farmers markets, it’s easy to get discouraged by night after night of the same traditional winter vegetables. Let’s face it: there are only so many variations on broccoli and cauliflower dishes.
To spice up your weekly meals with a healthy new twist, plan a trip to your local Asian market and experiment with some delicious new vegetables.
We’ve outlined our favorite Asian veggies to try, as well as tips for finding them in the Seattle and Portland areas.
If you haven’t tried bok choy, this mild vegetable (and superfood) is a perfect introduction to Asian veggies. Available at most supermarkets, bok choy can be substituted for leafy greens in any of your favorite recipes, but it’s most delicious simply sautéed with garlic and olive oil. The leaves cook in minutes and offer a perfect, quick side dish to your protein of choice.
Recipe to try: Seared Baby Bok Choy with Chili Oil and Garlic
In contrast to the broccoli you’re used to adding to your weeknight meals, Chinese broccoli has thinner stems and gives off a slightly more bitter taste. This versatile vegetable packs a healthy punch and is rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.
Recipe to try: Chinese Broccoli Stir Fry with Garlic Sauce
A name you probably haven’t heard before, yu choy is similar to Chinese broccoli, but with even thinner stalks and bright yellow flowers. The leaves taste very similar to spinach, but the crunchy stems will add a bit more texture to your dish. This vegetable is best cooked simply, and recipes that call for bok choy or Chinese broccoli will work great for yu choy as well.
Recipe to try: Yu Choy Cellophane Noodle Stir-Fry
Also known as Napa cabbage, the mild flavor of Chinese cabbage lends itself well to your favorite slaw and stir-fry recipes. For a healthier version of spring rolls, use the cabbage leaves to wrap up your favorite veggie or meat mixture.
Recipe to try: Strawberry and Spring Roll Salad with Chinese Cabbage
Chinese Long Bean
Closely related to black-eyed peas, Chinese long beans are longer, denser and crunchier than traditional green beans you’ve likely cooked with. You can find them in a variety of colors, from light and dark shades of green to even purple. An excellent source of iron, fiber and calcium, these nutritional beans are a mainstay in East Asian cuisine.
Recipe to try: Glazed Chinese Long Beans
Where to Purchase In Seattle
- Uwajimaja: The largest Asian grocery retailer in the Northwest, Uwajimaja offers a unique shopping experience as well as any ingredient you may need for your Asian recipes. The most famous location is in Seattle’s International District, but you can also find outposts in Bellevue, Renton and Beaverton, Ore.
- Viet Wah: Also in the International District, Viet Wah offers a similar selection to Uwajimaya, but without the crowds and higher prices.