Asian Vegetables

Twelve great Asian vegetables.


Bok Choy
(Brassica rapa) Brassicaceae; also called bok choi and pak choi.

  • Attractive cabbage relatives with long, thick white stems and dark green leaves. Leaves and stems are used fresh and cooked.
  • Sow seed in early spring or fall; grow like cabbage. Space plants 8–12 in. apart in the row and 12 in. between rows. Harvest entire small heads or larger individual leaves.
  • Young bok choy is delicious in salads, sautèed, or stir-fried. Chopped bok choy leaves are excellent additions to Chinese dishes.

Chinese Okra
(Luffa acutangula and L. aegyptiaca) Cucurbitaceae; also known as luffa (loofah) and sponge gourd.

  • Young fruit, leaves, blossoms, and seeds have culinary value. Mature fruits are dried and skinned to make sponges.
  • Start seed indoors and transplant outdoors when frost danger has passed. Grow as you would other gourds. Harvest fruit when 6 in. long for eating. For sponges, allow to mature and dry on vines.
  • Immature fruits ("okra") are sweet. Use like zucchini. Can also be sliced and fried like okra, which, along with the young fruits' appearance, gives the plant its name. Luffa sponges are valued for bathing and general cleaning.

(Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus) Brassicaceae; also called Chinese radish.

  • Distinctively torpedo-shaped radishes in white and a wide variety of colors. Larger cultivars can reach 2 ft long and 3 in. wide. The flesh has a crisp texture and flavor.
  • Sow seed in deep, rich soil and cultivate like a common radish. Space according to cultivar. Read catalog or seed packet for best season to plant. Stores well.
  • Root adds mildly spicy flavor to salads, Chinese sauces, and stir-fried seafood. Traditionally diced and made into a sweet pickle in Korea. Steam peppery leaves or add to clear soup.