Asian Vegetables

Twelve great Asian vegetables.


With the growing popularity of Thai, Korean, and Japanese cuisine, and the increasing sophistication of Chinese cuisine in North America, gardeners are becoming familiar with vegetables such as edamame, daikon, and bitter melon that were unknown outside of specialty markets not too long ago. Asian vegetables are not just delicious; many, like yard-long (asparagus) beans and winged beans, are fun to grow and share, too.

Some Asian vegetables, including Asian melons, eggplant, cucumbers, and tomatoes, are simply oriental cultivars of common veggies and are grown like any other cultivar of their species. You can find growing instructions for them in the basic vegetable entries throughout this encyclopedia.

To enjoy growing some of the more unusual Asian vegetables in your garden, follow the links below. You can find a wide selection of Asian vegetable seeds from many mail-order seed suppliers.

Bitter Melon
(Momordica charantia) Cucurbitaceae; also called bitter cucumber and balsam melon.

  • Vigorous cucumber-like vines produce green, white, or orange fruits that resemble wrinkled, bumpy, or warty cucumbers.
  • Plants need warm weather, full sun, and plenty of moisture. Soak seed for 24 hours before planting indoors to transplant later, or direct-seed outdoors when the soil is warm. Plants need the same care as cucumbers, and they respond well to trellising.
  • Depending on the cultivar, bitter melons range from quite bitter ('Siamese Bitter Cucumber') to mild ('Chinese Long White'). All types are used extensively in stir-fries and other Asian dishes.