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Chinese Vegetables

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Members of the Brassica family. (See Varietal pages for further information).

CLASSIFICATION

Vegetable

SEASON

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

About

As little as a decade ago, Chinese Vegetables were unknown to the Australian consumers. Today, these vegetables are rapidly making their way into the mainstream Australian diet. Fresh, crunchy and refreshing these vegetables are readily available, versatile, delicious, easy to prepare and highly nutritious.

Subtle in flavour, Chinese vegetables are fresh, crunchy and refreshing. The inner leaves of these vegetables are particularly tender and succulent. The Chinese cabbage differs from the European variety in that it is more subtle, sweet and tender with just the slightest hint of pepper.

Chinese vegetables are nearly all grown in Western Australia and are available in abundant supply throughout the year.

Tips and Hints
For a simple yet spectacular dish, steam then drizzle with a little soy sauce and sesame oil or butter.

Wombok or Chinese Cabbage
Look for fresh, crisp cabbage, free from dry or wilted leaves.

(While they can be grown all year round in WA, they are prone to a condition known as tip burn in hot weather and they can produce a seed stalk inside the head in late spring and early summer. Tip burn manifests itself as dry margins on leaves inside the head. These dead tips can be an entry point for rots in the presence of free moisture. Avoid heads that are showing any signs of a flower stem bursting through the top of the head, or heads that seem very heavy for their size, as these may contain a developing seed stalk.)

When home, store in a loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator. Inner leaves can stay fresh for up to three weeks.

Buk Choy, Pak Choy, Choy Sum
Look for fresh leaves and stems that are crisp, fresh and full. Avoid limp leaves and heads of these vegetables should be free of soil contamination.
When home, store in a loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator. These will store for up to a week. Importantly do not wash before storage as they will go slimy after a time. Only wash when ready to use.

Tips and Hints
Do not wash before storage. Only wash when ready to use.

Always rinse all of these vegetables under cold running water to remove any surface contamination and shake or spin dry. Remove leaves and trim stalks at base ready for use.

Wombok or Chinese Cabbage
Wombok or Chinese Cabbage is a highly versatile vegetable. It’s perfect for use in coleslaw and as a key ingredient in dumplings and rolls. It can be boiled, steamed or stir fried.

The leaves can be used as wrappers for other foods during steaming and it is ideal in a spicy meat dish or a delicately flavoured stir fry with fish or tofu because it absorbs the flavours during cooking.

Bok Choy, Pak Choy, Choy Sum
Baby vegetables of these three have a mild enough flavour to be eaten raw as do their inner leaves.
More mature specimens have a sharper flavor that is tamed with cooking:
The thick, juicy stems add an interesting texture to a dish while the dark green leaves add a different consistency and flavour.
All can be steamed, stir fried or added to soups, stews or even curries.

When cooking, the stems should be added first as they take longer to cook, (approximately three to five minutes). Slicing them diagonally helps to expose the inner surfaces which will soak up the sauces and flavours in the surrounding dish. The leaves (without stems) will wilt once exposed to heat therefore add when almost ready to serve (Approximately one minute prior).

Tips and Hints
Slice stems diagonally to allow inner surfaces to soak up the sauces and flavour of the dish.

Cook stems before leaves.

Chinese Vegetables are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol and a high source of dietary fibre.

In particular Bok Choy, Pak Choy, Choy Sum are high in protein, thiamin, Niacin and Phosphorus. They are also a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.

Wombok is packed with many antioxidant plant compounds such as carotenes, thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates. In addition, it has abundant in soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Scientific studies suggest these compounds are known to offer protection against breast, colon and prostate cancers and help reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels in the blood.

BOK CHOY
Nutrient Value per 100 g
Proximates
Energy, including dietary fibre 81 kJ
Moisture 94.8 g
Protein 2.6 g
Nitrogen 0.42 g
Fat 0.2 g
Ash 1 g
Dietary fibre 2.4 g
Fructose 0.2 g
Glucose 0.4 g
Total sugars 0.6 g
Available carbohydrate, without sugar alcohols 0.6 g
Available carbohydrate, with sugar alcohols 0.6 g
Minerals
Arsenic (As) 0.7 ug
Cadmium (Cd) 1 ug
Calcium (Ca) 86 mg
Copper (Cu) 0.041 mg
Iodine (I) 4.1 ug
Iron (Fe) 1.46 mg
Lead (Pb) 1.1 ug
Magnesium (Mg) 19 mg
Manganese (Mn) 0.269 mg
Phosphorus (P) 28 mg
Potassium (K) 260 mg
Sodium (Na) 59 mg
Tin (Sn) 0.5 ug
Zinc (Zn) 0.36 mg
Vitamins
Thiamin (B1) 0.114 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 0.125 mg
Niacin Equivalents 0.43 mg
Pyridoxine (B6) 0.52 mg
Biotin (B7) 2.8 ug
Folate, natural 40 ug
Total folates 40 ug
Dietary folate equivalents 40 ug
Beta carotene 538 ug
Cryptoxanthin 9 ug
Beta carotene equivalents 543 ug
Retinol equivalents 90 ug
Vitamin C 18 mg
Alpha tocopherol 0.1 mg
Vitamin E 0.14 mg

Source:

NUTTAB 2010(Food Standards Australia New Zealand); The University of New South Wales; Professor Heather Greenfield and co-workers at the University of New South Wales; Tables of composition of Australian Aboriginal Foods (J Brand-Miller, KW James and PMA Maggiore).

Tips and Hints
Chinese vegetables aid in reducing cholesterol.