When you think about Chinese greens, the most common ones that come to mind are Bok Choy, and Chinese broccoli...You may wonder what green vegetables Asians eat? There are many more Chinese greens out there that are essential for Asians. Here are some popular Chinese greens below for you to explore! Hope you find this information useful.
Bok Choy is a popular and widely available Chinese vegetable. It has light-green spoon-shaped leaves and jade-green stems. Its flavor is sweet and mild with a soft crunch, just like a cabbage. The stalks are mildly cabbage-tasting, refreshing, and crisp. Its unique flavor stands up to rich, strong flavors like oyster sauce, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame, and mushrooms. Bok Choy is used in Chinese cuisine in several different ways.
Napa Cabbage （大白菜）
Regarded as one of the most popular Chinese vegetables, Napa Cabbage is a type of cabbage that features pale green, firmly packed leaves, and a large head. It boasts a slightly milder and sweeter flavor than the ordinary, green cabbage. In terms of texture and color, it’s related to bok choy however it has earthier tones. Napa cabbage pairs well with ginger, radishes, carrots, chives, garlic, and cured meats, e.g., speck, back, and even prepared duck confit.
Chinese Water Spinach （空心菜）
Native to tropical Asia, Chinese Water Spinach can be prepared in various ways. It is an energy-boosting, highly nutritious vegetable. It has a crunchy texture and distinct taste. Although you can stir-fry it with a pinch of salt and aromatics, it’s popular to cook it with a stronger sauce because the water spinach picks up whatever flavor you add.
Snow Pea Leave （豌豆苗）
Snow Peas are a staple in many cuisines around the globe, particularly in Chinese cooking. The vegetable is well-known for its flattened and wide pods with small peas inside. The leaves are collected when the peas are still in the growth process within the flowers. The taste of the leaves is like snow peas but has a unique zing to it. You can eat the leaves raw or cook them to spice up your meals.
Yu Choy has smaller purple or yellow edible flowers. The stalks are narrow and topped off by oval-shaped, long dark green leaves. The flowers, stems, and leaves of yu choy are all edible and have a tender, crunchy consistency. When the plant is young, flowering, and tender, the green leaf and stalk are harvested to be used in stir-fry dishes, salads, and soups, like Chinese mustard greens. Yu Choy is an excellent green substitute for your usual meals.
Chinese Broccoli （Gai Lan 芥蓝）
Chinese Broccoli is one of the most widely used Chinese vegetables. It is a variety of broccoli that looks like regular broccoli but has a milder flavor and it is also grown on a longer stalk. The texture of Chinese broccoli is the same as regular broccoli, no matter whether it's raw or cooked. This makes it ideal to use it raw in salads, as an ingredient in a meat stir-fry, a vegetable stir-fry, or steam cooked as a side dish.
Featuring a dark green texture with several ribs through the leaf, Malabar Spinach is a popular variety of spinach. When cooked, it has a slimy consistency which is why it is commonly known as a slippery vegetable. It provides a rich earthy flavor, and it is cooked like other spinach greens. The whole plant can be fried or boiled. It is rich in vitamins and proteins, and it’s often used as an ingredient for soups made with pork.
Taiwanese Spinach （台湾菠菜）
Have you ever had stir fry Taiwanese spinach with garlic? Simple, easy Taiwanese Spinach stir fry is a classic Chinese vegetable dish.
Watercress is a member of the mustard family, and it is commonly used as a salad green and herb. It originated in western Asia and eastern Europe and now grows throughout the world. Watercress grows mainly in slow-running creeks, springs, and clear ponds. It has a very long root system and clusters of dark green leaves. The leaves have a spicy, savory flavor, making them very suitable for sandwiches, salads, or adding flavor to many dishes.
Wosun Greens is moist and mildly flavored. It has a crispy stem and both the leaves and the stem are edible and taste great when eaten raw. You can use the stem and leaves of wosun greens either in the same recipe or separately. While leaves are edible, the stem of this Chinese vegetable is the main attraction. It’s mild, crisp, and a little nutty, making it an ideal choice for things like pickles and stir-fries.
As a popular green in Chinese cuisine, Crowndaisy Chrysanthemum has a distinctive taste. It has a tangy flavor that increases with the age of the vegetable. The stalks are slightly crunchy and sweet, and the leaves have a mildly grassy flavor after being cooked. Similar in appearance to the ornamental variety of the plant, both the stems and the leaves of crowndaisy chrysanthemum are harvested for use either fresh or to be cooked for stews, soups, salads, and stir-fried dishes.
Youmai is a tasty leaf-type Chinese vegetable that has long, tender, and soft green leaves, making it a perfect choice for stir-fry dishes and soups. The flavor of youmai is like Chinese lettuce leaves. You can add it to soups or stir it with garlic. Youmai grows quite fast in the garden, and you can generally harvest tender leaves for salads, stir-fries, and soups 45 days after planting. It is also commonly known as Indian leaf lettuce.
Sweet Potato Leaves（红薯叶）
Harvested from young leaves of the sweet potato vine, Sweet Potato Leaves are a very healthy dark leafy vegetable. The vines they are harvested from have a delicate texture and you can use them similarly to a turnip or spinach greens. Like turnip greens, this Chinese vegetable is slightly tough and bitter. You can cook sweet potato leaves in place of spinach, chop them finely and add them to salads, or simply add them to stir-fries.
Bitter Melon （苦瓜）
Even though the name of this vegetable doesn’t sound very appetizing, Bitter Melon is a popular part of Chinese cuisine. It has tender meat, spongy seeds, and uneven skin. A freshly harvested bitter melon has a greenish-yellow texture with a sour, mild flavor. When it fully ripens, its texture becomes orangish-yellow, and the flavor turns bitter and pungent. It is often sliced, seeded, and quickly balanced to get rid of the bitterness and cooked with a strong sauce.
Chinese Yardlong Bean（豇豆）
This is a thin, long Chinese bean that can measure from one to three feet in length. It has a soft texture and it’s not moist or crisp as the Western variety. The lighter green yardlong bean is sweeter tasting and features a limp texture, making it ideal for dishes that can be quickly cooked. The dark green yardlong bean is more tender and has a firmer texture. It is suitable for dishes that require long cooking times.
Chinese Celery （芹菜）
Chinese Celery has a similar appearance to traditional celery, but it is much smaller. While it is commonly considered by some to be a vegetable, it is an herb that you can serve as a vegetable. You cannot use it as a seasoning like other herbs. Instead, it is often harvested as an ingredient for use in salads, stews, soups, and stir-fried dishes. The taste of Chinese celery is much more flavorful and intense.
Shepherd’s Purse （荠菜）
Shepherd’s Purse is a favorite Chinese vegetable for side dishes. It is cultivated in many eastern countries where it is stir-fried with various ingredients, including rice cakes. The seeds, young flowering shoots, and leaves can all be eaten raw or cooked. But eating them raw is usually not recommended. Shepherd’s purse is often added to soups. It also makes a great pizza and pesto topping. It is generally in season from late winter to mid-spring.
Chinese Mustard Greens（芥菜）
This is a very healthy Chinese vegetable. Its leaves are peppery and hot in flavor and have a reddish-purple or yellowish-green texture. Its pungent taste is flattened with vinegar, hot pepper flakes, garlic, or long cooking with a ham hock. Chinese mustard greens are commonly used to make pickled vegetables. You can also eat them raw with congee. However, their most popular use is for cooking dishes like pickled mustard cabbage with chicken or squid.
Chicken Feather Vegetable （鸡毛菜, ji mao cai）
Ji Mao Cai is in the same family as brassica chinensi, which includes different types of bok choy. Sometimes referred to as Nanjing cabbage, this Chinese vegetable is gangly and thin and resembles bok choy, particularly if it is picked when very young. Its stems and leaves are super tender, and the vegetable is commonly served stir-fried in salt, garlic, and lots of oil. The vegetable has no common English name mainly because it is not easily available outside China.
Cichorium endivia （苦菊）
Cichorium endivia is a flower-like leafy vegetable. They taste a little bitter, crispy, and sweet. Loaded full of nutrition. You can eat them raw or cooked, it is a great addition to a salad or making Chinese tea. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory food for Chinese people.
Chinese Spinach Amaranth (红苋菜)
This is broad-leafed spinach that features dark green color, a pretty Chinese greens. However, its leaves may be all green or green with purple to crimson tinted areas running through the center. The most common use of Chinese spinach is for stews, soups, salads, and stir-fried dishes. Adding it to soups enhances their flavor and texture. Since this variety of spinach is high in oxalic acids and nitrates, it is best not to consume high amounts continually.