Along with ‘locally sourced’, ‘seasonal’ is a buzzword you’ll often read on menus at all respectable eateries. For a good reason. Cooking with ingredients in season is a no-brainer and the result is healthy, tasty dishes packed with flavour and nutrition. As spring arrives, discover these delicious Asian vegetables, all of which you can pick up in Chinatown London’s supermarkets like SeeWoo or New Loon Moon.
You’ll recognise these little fellas from your favourite Chinese stir fry. Crunchy strips of bamboo shoot with a savoury, mushroom-like taste. But, to ensure they can be perennially served, bamboo shoots are often tinned. In spring, fresh bamboo shoots are at their best.
Cooking with fresh bamboo shoots is easy. Simply peel off the rough outer skin and remove the tough root end. Boil for 2 hours to eliminate bitterness, slice and add to your favourite Asian dish. They’re tasty when braised with soy, Shaoxing wine and ginger.
Crown daisy chrysanthemum greens
You’d be forgiven for thinking this ingredient is something you’d pop into a pretty vase rather than cook with, and you’re not far off. Coming from the same family as the flower and tea, chrysanthemum greens are a staple in Asian homes. Coming into abundance in spring, the leafy fronds are gently steamed or boiled, and have a sweet, herbaceous taste.
If you fancy trying this delectable delicacy, pick up a bunch of chrysanthemum greens from one of Chinatown’s supermarkets. Add to a pan of boiling water for 30 seconds to wake them up, allow them to cool and coat with your Asian dressing of choice. Tip: they love soy, sesame and being added to hot pot!
Sweeter, milder and more delicate than its zingy green counterpart, yellow chives enliven almost any Chinese dish. Fun fact: they get their golden yellow hue from being grown undercover, away from sunlight. Yellow chives are symbolic of spring, so why not brighten up your cooking with this lively herb?
With a garlic-y aroma, yellow chives are best friends with sliced pork or beef stir-frys, so finely slice a small handful and add to your wok about 1 minute before serving.
In the West, we only really eat garlic cloves, but in China and the Far East, the green sprouting tops are considered quite the delicacy too. Coming into harvest in spring, this cheery ingredient is perfect if you like a gentle kiss of garlic without an overpowering smell.
Fried and served with shredded pork is a classic way to eat garlic sprouts in China. To cook this dish at home, marinate your pork strips with soy, ginger and Shaoxing rice wine before adding to a hot wok. Once the pork has cooked through, simply add in your garlic sprouts which have been trimmed into 3cm strips, stir for 5 minutes and serve!