Oriental Brassicas in the Kitchen
Oriental vegetables can be cooked in a number of ways, but
stir-frying is one of the best, as it is fast, healthy, and
preserves their flavour. Although it is easiest to stir-fry in a
wok, any large frying pan, such as a deep sided sautéing
pan, or even a reasonably heavy saucepan, can be used if
- Cut leafy parts into pieces roughly 2-3in (5 to 7.5cm), and
stalks and any podded or root vegetables being included into
pieces about an inch (2.5cm) long.
- Heat the wok or pan until it starts to smoke.
- Put in 2-3 tablespoons of oil. For leafy greens, use
approximately a tablespoon of oil per handful of greens. As a
general rule, use an oil without a strong flavour of its own,
such as a good blend vegetable oil, groundnut oil or sunflower
oil. Avoid strong flavoured oils such as walnut or olive oil. A
possible exception is good quality sesame oil; its distinctive
flavour marries well with oriental vegetables.
- Swirl the oil in the base of the work or pan, and up the
- Sliced garlic and sliced ginger add a unique quality to the
greens, and can be added at this stage. Add garlic first, cooking
gently until it sizzles, and then the ginger, similarly heating
it until it sizzles.
- Add the prepared vegetables, putting the stalks, root
vegetables and pods in first, and then the leafy parts. Toss them
around for 30-60 seconds until they are well coated in oil and
- Add any other seasoning being used, such as sea salt, ground
pepper, sauces, herbs, chopped onions, add garlic and ginger at
this stage if you prefer.
- If the mixture is dry add a little moisture. This could be
water, white wine, stock, or Soya sauce diluted in a little
- Cook until the vegetables are tender, but crisp. This
normally takes no more than a few minutes, depending on the
vegetables and the quantities involved. If the vegetables are
thick and bulky, cover the pan for this stage. It is unnecessary
for small quantities.
N.B. Succulent vegetables such as cucumber help in the cookery
as they add their own moisture to the vegetables. Nuts, such as
cashews, can be stirred in just before serving.
Many of the oriental vegetables are used in soups, especially
the leafy greens. The following recipes are for four people.
Basic Western Recipe for Greens Soup
- 2 handfuls chopped greens
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped carrots
- 2 tablespoons radish or white turnip
- oil for cooking
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- ordinary or Chinese chives
- ½ tablespoon fresh tomato purée
- grated hard mature cheese
- spring onion, Mitsuba or chervil
Soften the vegetables by cooking gently in a little oil in a
large pan. Add salt, pepper, garlic, chopped chives, tomato
puree. Mix together well.
Add 2 pints (1.2 litres) water. Simmer until the vegetables
are just cooked.
Check seasoning, serve with crisp croutons, grated cheese and
chopped spring onion or fresh herbs.
Chinese-style Basic Soup for Leafy Greens
- 2 pints (1.2 litres) clear stock
- a few mushrooms
- 1 clove garlic
- handful of greens
- sesame oil or soy sauce (optional)
Bring the stock to the boil, and simmer briefly.
Stir-fry the mushrooms and garlic together; add the greens and
stir-fry for another minute.
Add the vegetables to the soup and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Season with a little sesame oil or soy sauce if liked
Young oriental brassicas, especially cut-and-come-again
seedlings, make excellent salads, either mixed with other salad
vegetables or on their own. Any standard salad dressing can be
used, or a 'Chinese' salad dressing. They also make excellent
- 2½ tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Soya sauce
- sea salt and ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or green onion
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced sweet peppers
- 1 tablespoon ground sesame seeds
- 1 finely chopped garlic clove
Blend the oil and vinegar together first, and then gradually
stir in all the other ingredients.
Sesame Seed Dressing
- 2 tablespoons white or brown sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Soya sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
Crush the sesame seeds, and add all the other ingredients to
Chinese Hot Salad
Stir-fry the vegetables very briefly to take the edge off
their rawness, i.e. for about 30 seconds. Use a mixture of
cooking oil and a little sesame oil.
While still in the pan pour the dressing over the vegetables
and toss them around thoroughly for another 30 seconds.
Serve immediately. This method preserves their colour and
(Recipes taken from a Henry Doubleday leaflet based on the
book 'Oriental Vegetables' by Joy Larkcom.
[ Top of page ] [Stir-fry] [Soups] [ Salads ] [ Main recipe