As you may know, it’s essential to eat a variety of vegetables to stay healthy.
Fresh vegetables contain lots of water-soluble vitamins, which can help us maintain healthy cells, organs, and the immune system. In addition, vegetables can provide us with a variety of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. Most vegetables are also rich in dietary fiber, and this can help us improve intestinal function.
China is a huge country, and a large portion of our cuisine is based around vegetables. Let’s learn more about popular vegetables in China.
1. Chinese cabbage 大白菜
Nowadays, people in both the north and south of China eat Chinese cabbage often. It is a staple ingredient in many dishes. Chinese cabbage can be stir-fried and boiled in soup, and it is excellent when paired with meat.
Chinese cabbage was originally produced in northern China. Its seeds were found in clay pots more than 6,000 years ago, which indicates that the Chinese cabbage has a long history.
Chinese cabbage is a typical high-yield vegetable which makes it an accessible vegetable for most people to purchase. Unlike other leafy vegetables, the storage period of Chinese cabbage can be more than 5 months. Its durability and low price have made it one of our most popular foods.
2. Tomatoes 西红柿
Have you tried stir-fried tomatoes and eggs? I hope that you have! It has become very a very popular dish for visitors to China, and many choose to recreate it when they return home as well.
Although tomatoes are currently quite popular in China, they are not from China. Originally Chinese people used tomatoes to create balance within their dishes. Their sour-sweet taste harmonizes well with other flavors. Tomatoes’ bright-red color also makes dishes look more attractive, and red is known to stimulate our appetites. This picture above is making us drool now, in fact.
In China, tomatoes are widely used in meat dishes. The fresh, slightly sour taste can intensify the flavors in the meat. There are many famous meat dishes in China that use tomatoes, such as stewed beef belly with tomatoes, and stewed pork spareribs. Additionally, we prepare cold dishes with tomatoes. Chinese people often serve tomatoes with a pinch of sugar, slice some tomatoes and cucumbers together, or just add some tomatoes to a cold dish to make the flavors pop.
3. Chives 韭菜
Chinese chives or 韭菜 (jiǔ cài) are loved for their strong fragrance and flat leaves. Chives are widely planted across the country of China. In China, chives are mainly divided into two categories, broadleaf, and narrow leaf. In Chinese cuisine, chives can be used as a condiment for dishes or as the main ingredient for cooking.
We often stir-fry them with eggs, shrimp, with fish or use them with other aromatics to add to dumpling fillings.
4. Bamboo shoots 竹笋
Bamboo shoots are a traditional vegetable that originated in the south of China. We love their fragrant smell and crispy-yet-soft texture. Since thousands of years ago, bamboo shoots have been thought of as a treasured ingredient.
We normally harvest bamboo shoots during the winter and early spring, because bamboo shoots have the best flavor during these two seasons. Bamboo can be served cubed, sliced, or in strings when fresh.
Because of the short harvest season (and how well they are loved), many of them are pickled to preserve them for a longer time. Before cooking, we just soak them in water and prepare them along with other ingredients like meat, and they taste delicious!
5. Lotus roots 莲藕
Lotus root is popular all throughout China, and the most famous area for growing lotus root is Hubei.
Lotus roots are the roots of the lotus flowers, and they grow underwater. There have pipe-like holes inside it, and when you cut them vertically, you can see the silk-like fibers that make up the root. They need to be peeled and thoroughly washed before cooking as they grow in the mud.
Lotus roots are sweet and crispy but soften pleasantly when cooked well. Chefs often use the holes as vehicles for delicious bites of meat, sauce, and other treats. Lotus root can also be prepared for cold dishes.
6. Potatoes 土豆
China is the largest potato producer in the world and accounts for about one-fourth of the total production. Naturally, potatoes are an important vegetable in today’s Chinese cuisine.
Potatoes are not considered a staple food in Chinese cuisine. Instead, potatoes are treated as a vegetable side dish. They are generally prepared and served with plain rice. One of the most popular potato dishes is hot and sour potato stir-fry. It’s extremely popular in China nowadays. We also boil, roast, and steam potatoes and create lots of other potato-based dishes.
Chinese people love vegetables and try to eat a diverse range of them to ensure good health. These are some of the most popular and widely consumed in today’s cuisine.