Why Asian Vegetables Are Taking Over Your Plate and How to Cook Them

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In culinary terms, a vegetable is an edible plant or its part, intended for cooking or eating raw. The term “vegetable” is a non-biological one largely defined through culinary and cultural tradition.

Apart from vegetables, other main types of plant food are fruits, grains and nuts. The division between vegetables and other food types is somewhat arbitrary and based on culture.

Asian cuisine is known for its unique flavors, but did you know it’s also popular for its variety of vegetables?

Some of the most popular vegetables in Asian cuisine are bok choy, napa cabbage, chinese celery, and yu choy. These vegetables are often used in stir fries, soups, and salads.

I’ll take you through the most popular vegetables in Asian cuisine and why they’re so popular.

Asian vegetables

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Discover the Variety of Asian Vegetables

Asian cuisine is known for its use of a wide variety of vegetables, many of which are not commonly found in Western dishes. Here are some of the most popular Asian vegetables:

  • Bok Choy: This leafy green vegetable is a staple in Chinese cuisine and is commonly used in stir-fries and soups. It has a slightly sweet taste and is high in vitamin C and folic acid.
  • Napa Cabbage: This cabbage has a milder taste than regular cabbage and is commonly used in Korean cuisine to make kimchi. It’s also great in salads and stews.
  • Yu Choy Sum: This leafy green vegetable is commonly used in Chinese cuisine and has a slightly bitter taste. It’s great steamed and served with a little bit of soy sauce.
  • Chinese Celery: This vegetable has a distinct flavor and is commonly used in stir-fries and soups. It’s also a great ingredient in traditional Chinese dishes like hot pot.
  • Chinese Spinach: This leafy green vegetable is commonly used in Chinese cuisine and has a slightly sweet taste. It’s great in stir-fries and soups.

How to Prepare Asian Vegetables

Asian vegetables can be cooked in a variety of ways, including steaming, stir-frying, and boiling. Here are some tips for preparing Asian vegetables:

  • Steaming: Steaming is a great way to cook Asian vegetables, as it helps to retain their nutrients and flavor. Simply place the vegetables in a steamer basket and steam for a few minutes until they’re tender.
  • Stir-frying: Stir-frying is a common method of cooking Asian vegetables. Simply heat up some oil in a wok or frying pan, add your vegetables and some aromatics (like garlic and ginger), and stir-fry until they’re cooked through.
  • Boiling: Boiling is a great way to prepare Asian vegetables for soups and stews. Simply boil the vegetables in water until they’re tender.

Why Swap Your Regular Vegetables for Asian Vegetables?

Asian vegetables are a great way to add variety to your diet and try new flavors. Here are some reasons why you should consider swapping your regular vegetables for Asian vegetables:

  • Nutrient-rich: Asian vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals, making them a great addition to a healthy diet.
  • Low in calories: Many Asian vegetables are low in calories, making them a great choice for people who are watching their weight.
  • Easy to find: Many Asian vegetables are now widely available in Western countries, making them easy to find and prepare.
  • Great flavor: Asian vegetables have a distinct flavor that sets them apart from Western vegetables. They’re a great way to add new flavors to your dishes and make your meals more interesting.

Why You Should Expand Your Knowledge and Try More Asian Greens and Vegetables

Asian greens and vegetables are a great addition to any diet. They are rich in nutrients such as vitamins C and K, folic acid, and minerals such as calcium and iron. These vegetables are also a great source of fiber, which is important for a healthy digestive system. In addition, they are packed with antioxidants that help protect against diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Wide Variety of Choices

Asian cuisine offers a wide variety of greens and vegetables to choose from. Some of the most popular ones include bok choy, Chinese broccoli, water spinach, and mustard greens. These vegetables are typically dark and leafy, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Trying out new kinds of vegetables can be exciting and inspire you to create new recipes.

Unique Flavors and Recipes

Asian greens and vegetables have unique flavors that can add a lot of depth to your cooking. They are perfect for stir-fries, soups, and salads. If you’re not sure how to prepare them, there are plenty of recipes available online that can help you get started. Trying out new recipes can help you feel more confident in the kitchen and expand your culinary skills.

Easy to Find and Budget-Friendly

Asian greens and vegetables are fairly easy to find in most grocery stores and greengrocers. They are also typically fairly budget-friendly, making them a great option for those on a tight budget. When looking for Asian greens and vegetables, check out your local Asian market or grocery store for a large selection.

Helps to Increase Your Produce Selection

Trying out new Asian greens and vegetables can help you increase your produce selection and ensure that you’re getting a wide variety of nutrients in your diet. Adding more vegetables to your diet is important for your overall health and can help you feel better both physically and mentally.

Branching Out and Trying New Things

If you’re a fan of cycling or simply want to change up your diet, trying new Asian greens and vegetables can be a great way to expand your knowledge and choices. Being a proponent of trying new things can help you feel more confident in your food choices and ensure that you’re getting the best possible nutrition.

Ensuring a Healthy Belly

Adding Asian greens and vegetables to your diet can help ensure a healthy belly. These vegetables are packed with fiber, which is important for a healthy digestive system. They are also a great source of vitamins and minerals that can help keep your body healthy and strong.

Expanding Your Local Market

Trying out new Asian greens and vegetables can help expand your local market. By trying out new vegetables, you can help create a demand for them in your area. This can help ensure that your local market carries a wide variety of produce, making it easier for you to find the vegetables you want.

Where to Find the Best Asian Greens and Vegetables

If you’re looking for Asian greens and vegetables, your local grocery store might have a decent selection. Check out the produce section and look for the following:

  • Bok choy
  • Chinese broccoli
  • Napa cabbage
  • Snow peas
  • Bean sprouts
  • Watercress

Specialty Stores

If your local grocery store doesn’t have a wide enough selection of Asian greens and vegetables, consider checking out specialty stores. Here are some options:

  • Asian markets: These stores typically have a huge selection of Asian vegetables, both fresh and imported. They may also have obscure ingredients that you won’t find anywhere else.
  • Chinatown: If you live in a city with a sizable Chinatown, you’re in luck. These areas typically have loads of Asian grocery stores and greengrocers.
  • Specialty grocers: Some grocery stores specialize in imported foods and may have a sizable selection of Asian greens and vegetables.

Online Options

If you’re having trouble finding the right ingredients in your area, consider shopping online. Here are some options:

  • Asian food stores: There are plenty of online stores that specialize in Asian ingredients. Simply do a quick search and you’ll find a lot of options.
  • Amazon: Believe it or not, Amazon has a fairly wide selection of Asian greens and vegetables. Check out their pantry section for some unique options.

Consider Your Budget

When it comes to buying Asian greens and vegetables, it’s important to consider your budget. Imported ingredients can be fairly expensive, so you may need to stick to local options if you’re on a tight budget.

Get to Know Your Local Greengrocer

If you’re a fan of Asian cuisine, it’s worth getting to know your local greengrocer. These knowledgeable folks can help you find the best ingredients for your recipes and may even be able to special order items for you.

Authentic Flavors

If you’re a fan of authentic Asian flavors, using Asian greens and vegetables is a must. These ingredients give your dishes a unique and exciting flavor that you won’t get from using more common veggies.

Conclusion

So, that’s it- the most popular vegetables in Asian cuisine. 

You can’t go wrong with the ones we’ve discussed today, and you can always use them to expand your culinary skills and try new flavors. 

So, don’t be afraid to try new things and expand your horizons!

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.