Prepared for students inEthnobotany in China,a Study Abroad course atEastern Illinois Universitytaught byGordon C. Tucker and Zhiwei Liu
Chinese Vegetables • Part 2 • Asteraceae through Mushrooms
Asteraceae • Includes artichoke, lettuce, thistle, and sunflower • Also several Asian vegetables and herbs, such as safflower and burdock
Chrysanthemum greens • Chrysanthemum coronarium • Mandarin: Tong hao cai • Cantonese: Tong ho choy • Used as an herbal medicine and as a cooked vegetable combined with other vegetables and in various stir-fried dishes. • An annual eaten at the seedling stage when it is not more than 20 cm high. Leaves are succulent with a light silvery tinge and broadly serrated edges. The related species, C. cinerariifolium is the source of insecticide powder.
Lettuce, Lactuca sativa • Lettuce is an ancient species. • The wild ancestors are not known with certainty; Lactucaserriola is a possibility. • Cultivated before 4500 B.C. in Egypt. • The Romans ate tossed salads with leafy lettuces.
Sheng-cai (生菜, Lettuce) On important days such as Chinese New Year in January or February, many families have Sheng-cais at their celebration dinners and bundle them with red strings to honor their ancestors. Why? Because Sheng-cai vegetable is pronounced the same as "making money" in Chinese. Therefore it is considered a symbol of hopeful goodwill and fortune for Chinese people. Chinese cultivars of lettuce resemble Romaine lettuce, rather than leaf or iceberg
Celtuce 莴苣 • Chinese Lettuce • Stem Lettuce • Asparagus Lettuce • woh sun • Edible stalk lettuce • Much of China's crop goes into Shanghai pickles, called "lettuce pickles" in Chinese groceries.
Celtuce 莴苣 • Stem Lettuce • One of several cultivars grown in China Vegetable Market in Jishou, Hunan
Solanaceae • Nightshade Family • tomatoes • potatoes • chili peppers • goji berries • eggplant
Tomatoes • Yes, the Chinese eat tomatoes • large tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are common • they are eaten fresh or used in sauces or stir-fry Tomatoes in a vegetable market in Jishou, Hunan
Potato Solanum tuberosum Solanaceae • native to South America • introduced to China in the late 1500’s • China is now the world’s largest producer of potatoes • potatoes are most often shredded or sliced and used in stir fries
Potatoes with long beans, green beans, carrots, eggplants, melons, and other local vegetables, at a market in Jishou, Hunan Province
Eggplants • native to India • widely cultivated in China • most often used in stir fries
Red pepper Capsicum species • cayenne and chili peppers (hot) • pimiento and bell peppers (mild) • native to South America, cultivated for at least 6000 years • introduced to China in the 1500’s and so thoroughly incorporated in Chinese cuisine, that some people might think they were native to Asia!
Sweet Peppers (Bell peppers) • both red and green bell peppers are commonly used in stir fries in China • usually they are mixed with other vegetables, occasionally served alone
Cucurbitaceae -- Gourd Family Herbaceous vines with tendrils. Combine these features with a palmate pattern of leaf lobing and venation and you have, just using vegetative characters, a well marked family. at right, young cucumber plants in Changsha, Hunan
Cucumbers • Commonly sliced and used in stir fry • Small varieties often eaten whole as snacks
Bitter melon Momordica charantia Other names: bitter gourd, bitter cucumber, foo gwa Characteristics: With deep grooves and a bumpy texture, this green melon is unlike most melons known in the Western hemisphere. If eaten in an unripe state, it lives up to its name. Allowed to ripen, the interior gains a lovely reddish hue and it has a sweeter flavor. Grown in tropical regions throughout the world, the melon's bitterness (due to small amounts of quinine) is an acquired taste.
Luffa acutangula, Ridged Gourd • Si Gua, Loofah, Lufah • Vine with dark green leaves and yellow flowers. • Fruits have white, fragrant flesh, used in stir-fried dishes or soup. • Round Lufa (Luffa cylindrica) Similar use. Mature fruits are processed and used as a bath or kitchen sponges.
Winter Melon • Benincasahispida • Popular in China and southeastern Asia • Can grow up to 60 cm long and 40 cm across • Can weigh 10 kg • Winter melon soup • Served in a scooped-out winter-melon shell, • A sweet soup often served at large Chinese gatherings, such as weddings
Sweet PotatoIpomoea batatas (Convolvulaceae) • Fan Shu (Mandarin)Fun-Shu (Cantonese) • A trailing herbaceous perennial rooting from the nodes. Many varieties are cultivated for their tuberous roots or edible leaves. • The leaves cooked with various seasonings, and chili form a tasty dish.
Sweet Potato • The plant is native to tropical America, having been cultivated there for centuries. It spread to the Pacific Islands and then to Asia. It was known in southern China by the mid 1500’s. • The root tubers are usually boiled steamed, or stir-fried. They are sweet in taste owing to the presence of sugars, the quality of which is increased by boiling or baking. • However, starch is the main constituent and flour can be prepared from the tubers. They are nutritious, with about twice as much protein as white potatoes.
Water Spinach Ipomoea aquatica • Convolvulaceae • Kang-kong, Weng Cai; Ung-Choi (Cantonese); • Relative of sweet potato • A perennial semi-aquatic plant producing long shoots which trail over the water or mud, rooting freely at the nodes. • Can also be grown on dry land. • Flowers are white or pink and leaves are arrow-shaped and stem hollow. • The young plants, leaves and shoots form a common leaf vegetable with Asians. It has a high iron content.
Chinese Spinach • Amaranthus tricolor(A. gangeticus) • Amaranthaceae • Xian Cai (Mandarin) • Yin-Choi (Cantonese) • A very ancient pot herb in South East Asia, many of the more than fifty species in both tropical and temperate regions are eaten as greens. • It is probably the best of all tropical spinaches both in flavor and food value. It contains substantial amounts of vitamins A, B, C and double the amount of iron found in spinaches.
Tong-cai (通菜, Water Spinach) • Tong-cai with fermented bean curd and pepper slices is a local favorite delicacy in southern China. • There are two kinds of Tong-cai, which grow respectively in relatively dry fields or watery land. The latter is greener and more robust, with larger leaves.
Bo-cai (菠菜, Spinach) • Spinach of western gardens • nicknamed "Hong Zui Lue Yingge" ("Red-beak green parrot") in East China for its appearance.
Houttuynia cordataLizard’s Tail • 鱼腥草 • pinyin: yúxīng cǎo; literally "fishy-smell herb“ • Used in salads and stir fries, especially in Sichuan and Hunan
Colocasia esculenta (Araceae) • Taro or Cocoyam • Yu Tou; • Woo-Tau (Cantonese) • The corms of Taro are the "potatoes" of the tropics, being superior to potatoes in nutritional value, containing a higher proportion of proteins, calcium and phosphorus. The main bulk is starch, present in very fine grains that makes them easily digestible. The corms can be boiled, roasted, fried as chips • nice nutty flavor • The young leaves and petioles are also used as food and cooked like any other green vegetable.
Water Chestnuts • Eleocharis dulcis • an edible tuber that belongs to the sedge family Cyperaceae. This is not to be confused with the horned water chestnut or water caltrop (Trapa spp.) or with the tree chestnut that is usually roasted and eaten (Castanea spp.). • The water chestnut is grown in paddies with rice • The Chinese water chestnut is a popular ingredient in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines • In the U.S., we often make due with canned water chestnuts, but fresh ones are the rule in China.
ARROWHEAD, Sagittaria sinensis • TSEE GOO, KUWAI • A small, tuberous vegetable used in Japan and China, where it is grown extensively in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. It resembles a lily bulb with smooth, beige skin and peeling, thin, brown, layered leaves. It has a bland, slightly sweet taste, and can be used in the same way as a potato. • Also known as tsee goo (China); kuwai (Japan). • known as p'ien t'ao jen (China) • The round tuber is edible. In China, it is known as cí-gū (慈菇; lit. "benevolent mushroom"), and its tuber is eaten particularly on the Chinese New Year. It tastes bland, with a starchy texture, similar to a potato but somewhat crunchier, even when cooked.
Lotus 莲花 • Nelumbo nucifera • Lián-huā • The lotus root looks like a chain of giant pods connected to one another. Crunchy, with a tinge of sweetness, the vegetable can be prepared in a variety of ways—fried, sautéed, steamed, boiled—without losing its firmness, making it an ideal snappy texture for dishes such as salads. • Although used throughout Asia, the lotus root is closely associated with Chinese cuisine. It is also prized for its unique interior pattern of holes, which add a decorative aspect to many dishes.
Lily • Lilium bulbs are starchy and edible as root vegetables, although bulbs of some species may be very bitter. • The non-bitter bulbs of L. lancifolium, L. pumilum, and especially L. brownii (百合干; bǎihé gān) are grown on a large scale in China as a luxury or health food, most often sold in dry form. • They are eaten especially in the summer, for their ability to reduce internal heat. They may be reconstituted and stir-fried, grated and used to thicken soup, or processed to extract starch. • Their texture and taste draw comparison with the potato, although the individual bulb scales are much smaller.
Chinese Toon • Toona sinensis • Xiang Chun Ya • A hardwood tree, related to mahagony. The young leaves and shoots can be used as a vegetable called Xiang Chun Ya. They are uniquely aromatic, excellent for stir fry (especially with egg), salad, pickling, seasoning, etc. • It is also used as a medicinal plant
Bamboo Shoots • Pleioblastus variegatus • Grass Family (Poaceae) • Shoots are the young canes that are harvested within two weeks, or less than a foot of growth • Crisp and tender, similar to asparagus • Low in fat and calories • good source of fiber and potassium
Bamboo Shoots • Must be for cooked (blanched) for 20 minutes before eating • raw shoots are bitter tasting and hard to digest • Other genera are utilized, especially Phyllostachys
Harvesting bamboo shoots National Geographic
Shan-cai (潺菜, Ceylon Spinach) • Basella alba, B. rubra • Zi luo kui, Lu luo kui (Mandarin) • Lo kwai (Cantonese) • Native of southern Asia • smooth and gluey on the palate • Mucilaginous quality makes it good as a thickener in soups and stews. • Functions to "cool" the inside of the human body
Bracken Fern • juécài (蕨菜) • Worldwide, the most widely distributed species of fern • Harvested from the wild • Used in stir fries with light seasoning
Vegetables from bulbs • Onions, leeks, garlic, and shallots are all in the genus Allium of the Liliaceae. All of these have been cultivated for thousands of years. Onions (Allium cepa) and garlic (A. sativum) probably originated in central Asia and leeks (A. ampeloprasum) in the Near East. All were cultivated in Egypt by 3200 B.C. • Chives (A. schoenoprasum) are eaten for the leaves alone.
Cong（葱, Spring Onion） • There are two interesting cais widely used for seasoning in Chinese cuisine, Cong and Jiu-cai. • Cong, slim and refreshingly fragrant, can enrich and balance the flavors of a dish. It is also synonymous with "smartness” ('Cong Ming' in Mandarin). • Many traditional-minded parents let their babies have a bite of cong in the hopes that the plant will help their children become smarter in the future.
Jiu-cai (韭菜, Leek) • The leaves are flat, unlike similar European chives • Jiu-cai is nutritious, but "hot" according to TCM. It has been served on Chinese menus for over 3,000 years. • The Jiu-cai harvested in February of the Chinese lunar calendar (about March) is the finest. • Used both as a seasoning and as a vegetable component of stir fries
Mushrooms • Some common mushrooms and other fungi in Chinese cuisine • Some are used as medicines