Also known as Chinese kale or Chinese broccoli, Kai-Lan (Gai-Lan) is a favorite in Chinese restaurants. Like its western counterpart – the broccoli, this leafy vegetable is rich in vitamins and minerals. Chinese broccoli is best served when stir-fried with lots of garlic mixed in oyster sauce.
In the Philippines, Chinese broccoli ( or Chinese kale) is typically grown in the cooler regions, where the temperature does not exceed 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Fortunately, it is still generally more heat tolerant than other Chinese greens so it is still possible to grow this vegetable even in warm cities like Manila. From my experience, I find the home-grown kai-lan leaves delightfully more flavorful than the commercial ones.
As I was doing my usual grocery chores one long weekend, I stumbled upon a seedling that is being sold at the store as “ashitaba”. I’ve heard so much about the wonderful benefits of ashitaba so I decided to buy two healthy seedlings. As I was researching online about this so-called “ashitaba”, I suddenly realized that I just bought the “fake” ashitaba. I actually purchased seedlings of gynura procumbens, otherwise known as the “longevity spinach”.
Edible amaranth is one of those fascinating Asian greens that truly packs a superload of essential nutrients. Also known as “Yin Chai” or “Chinese Spinach” , this leafy vegetable is more commonly used in Chinese and other Southeast Asian cuisines, whether for stir-fried or soup-based meals. Although it is not very popular in the Philippines, I have seen this being sold occasionally in local groceries. The leaves closely resemble that of the regular spinach in appearance and texture, and are often used as an alternative to spinach. Unlike the spinach however, the amaranth thrives better in warm weather conditions and can withstand even our summer heat in the Philippines
Yu choi is definitely my favorite among the Asian greens. Also known as yau choy or choy sum, this vegetable is commonly used in Chinese cuisine whether steamed and dipped in soy sauce, or simply stir-fried in oyster sauce. Last year, my mother gifted me with a packet of seeds bought from one of her regular trips to Vietnam. I started sowing the seeds last December and in just 5 – 6 weeks, the leaves are all ready for harvest.
Every urban gardener’s dream is to grow deliciously plump tomatoes. Two years ago, I embarked on my tomato quest. As I realized later on, it’s not as easy as it looked on that You Tube tutorial. My first few attempts were a miserable failure. Over the next several months, I honed my gardening skills until finally, I was able to harvest the first batch of tomatoes from my potted plants.