One thing that stands out in terms of my cooking style is that I’m all about adding things IN to my food, rather than taking things out. So when I’m looking for something a little more virtuous (like with my Superfood Fried Rice, for example), I don’t remove anything but instead add some extra fantastic ingredients to give a dish a boost. And a lot of that, I’m reaching for Asian greens. But what are Asian greens exactly? It’s kind of a blanket term for green, leafy vegetables that are commonly found in Asian cuisines, such as Chinese and Thai. However, if you’re unsure about the difference between choy sum and bok choy, don’t worry – this guide to Asian greens is for you!
This handy video on how to cook Asian greens is a great place to start, otherwise read on, my friends.
Bok choy is wonderful at soaking up flavours, so I love to use it in stir-fries. It’s also the perfect companion to my Chinese BBQ pork char siu noodles – and in this recipe, it couldn’t be easier to cook. You literally place it into a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over it, then leave it to blanch for 4 minutes. So simple! Equally epic drizzled with a dash of sesame oil.
One way you can easily up your vegetable count with any meal is to serve some wok-fried or steamed Asian greens on the side. It’s a really simple way of increasing your greens intake – and they taste fantastic, too! I love the ease of this Chinese garlic broccoli, which is also known as gai lan. It’s so quick and uses oyster sauce, garlic and soy sauce to pack in some serious flavour and fragrance. Delicious.
Taste-wise, I’d say choy sum has a flavour that’s quite close to English spinach in that sense. It’s very popular in Chinese cuisine. Cook it until the firmer stalks are just tender so that you don’t lose any of that beautiful texture. It’s a great vegetable to use in my Easy Asian Greens recipe, which is such a simple method but full of richness.
What’s the story with morning glory? Well, it’s a very traditional vegetable from Thailand, and is also known as water spinach. Sweet and crunchy, it’s best stir-fried with garlic and chilli. Pick up a bunch at an Asian or Thai grocery store, then head to your kitchen quicksmart and try my recipe for Thai Stir-fried Morning Glory (also known as Pak Boong Fai Dang).
Snake beans have a slightly medicinal taste to them in comparison to the green beans found in mainstream supermarkets. They have a wonderful cooling effect when you eat them raw, which is why you’ll often find them served on the side of really hot and spicy dishes, like my Thai Chicken Laab.
And that’s it, my friends. My five favourite Asian greens. Which one is yours?