In their marvellously successful effort to provide themselves with nutritious sustenance, the Chinese people have gladly and imaginatively exploited every food resource available to them. Among the most beneficial means to that end is their broad reliance on a vast number of different vegetable greens, the unique source of so many essential vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Chinese flowering cabbage is but one, albeit very important, example of this dietary proclivity.
The cabbage family of vegetables in China is actually almost unrepresented in the rest of the world, except as it has spread from China. It would be tedious to list all of the types that are cultivated and consumed in enormous quantities every day in China. It is safe to say, however, that the Chinese flowering cabbage is among the most popular. A relative of another favourite green, pak choi, this cabbage is slimmer, with yellow flowers to complement its green leaves. Its attributes make it more desirable and more expensive than pak choi.
Stir-frying is the preferred cooking method, the cabbage leaves requiring little cooking to bring out their delicate, sweet, mustard flavour.
Look for firm stalks and check the stems to make sure they are not old and fibrous. The leaves should look fresh without brown spots.
Store in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. Like pak choi, it should keep for about 1 week.
This vegetable is delicious stir-fried with olive oil and garlic. Use it in fillings and with pasta. It also makes a mustardy salad green; however, it needs to be washed well. The best way to prepare it is to trim and cut according to recipe instructions and then wash it in several changes of cold water.
© Ken Hom and reproduced with his kind permission.