Chinese cooking

James Waddick
Mon, 06 Oct 2008 14:01:59 PDT
Dear Tsuh Yang;
	A topic of interest to me for botanic and culinary reasons.

	Yes, sweet potato leaves (Ipomoea batatas)  are edible and 
you can google any number of recipes. Water spinach is I. aquatica, 
and a very different taste. Years ago I was working at a zoo where we 
raised plain old sweet potatoes in the basement under lights so we 
could harvest the vines as a treat for the leaf eating Colobus 
Monkeys in winter. It was a favorite.

	One bulb garlic is one of my favorite vegetables in China. 
Each bulb is nearly a perfect globe and usually less than an inch in 
diameter.  The flavor is like a rich, mild garlic. Very distinct. 
They are often served stir fried by themselves or with a light sauce. 
I have in the past sought out a US source and never found one, but I 
imagine in they must be available in some Chinese shopping areas. I 
can't recall if it is a cultivar or a different Allium species. In 
the market they are sold pre-skinned at a slightly premium price.

	Speaking of Oriental edible alliums. You may have come across 
an items called "Pickled Leeks" also known as Rakkyo and pickled 
shallots. These tiny bulbs are not readily identifiable as any of 
these. They are common in Vietnamese and Thai markets, sold in small 
tins or glass jars. A tasty condiment. See-…

	Of course in China, especially more remote areas, you will 
find many familiar items on the menu and I've eaten stir fried 
'Strawberry Begonia' (Saxafraga fortunei), Lilium davidii (a big crop 
in Gansu Province) and even rhizomes of Houttuynia cordata (not 
recommended).  Stem lettuce or Celtuce is a common spring vegetable 
in Central China.  This is another delicious vegetable that certainly 
deserves wider cultivation in the US although I've never seen it and 
even seeds are not that easy to find.

	You might ask around for one bulb garlic if you have a good 
Chinese produce market. Beg and let me know if EVER!

			Best		Jim W.

Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
Zone 5 Record low -23F
	Summer 100F +

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