Seasonal Asian leafy greens on my dining table (from late November to March)

Spring is beckoning to us, while Philadelphia is back to freezing days again. The diverse vegetable baskets above are my sunshine.

Yesterday, my husband brought home four types of fresh Asian leafy greens home, 12 pounds in total. Unlike uniform leafy greens in supermarkets,  these greens vary in different sizes and lengths,  dotted with a little fresh soil. A knowledgeable vegetable lover can tell they are high-quality vegetables. They are naturally grown.

Can you identify them? Shanghai bok choy possibly is the one that can be recognized by many people. I bet many people living in North America are envious of me for they repeat eating carrots, potatoes, sweet peppers, celery, kale, etc. every day at this time, most of which are not leafy greens.  For people living in or nearby Philadelphia, I can tell you where to buy. For people living in other areas, you have to do research first.

Unlike some tough local leafy greens in Philadelphia, such as kale, chard, etc, Asian leafy greens are usually soft, tender and are very easily cooked. For high-quality vegetables, you do not need any cooking technique for they are tasty themselves. The following leafy greens have one common ground that freezing temperature can make them taste sweeter. You can eat them raw.

Let me introduce one by one to you.

Baby bok choy
Baby bok choy look a little frozen because it’s cold in Philadelphia recently.

When I search baby bok choy on Google images, all the images point to Shanghai bok choy without exception. It’s completely wrong! In Chinese, we call it xiao bai cai (小白菜). Their color is usually light green.

How do native Chinese cook baby bok choy? The most common way is to just use cooking oil to do a simple stir-fry and add some salt finally. You can also add them to fried rice, to noodles, or soup or a tofu dish in the final step. Or you can stir fry with some meat or mix with meat for fillings.


Does anyone know this vegetable? It’s kumatsuna, a Japanese vegetable. I usually do a quick stir fry. Are there Japanese readers? Feel free to share with us on how to cook them.

Shanghai bok choy
Shanghai bok choy

It’s Shanghai bok choy in the above two pictures, a world-famous Chinese vegetable. In Chinese we call it shang hai qing (上海青). Their color is usually dark green. We cook them almost as same as baby bok choy.

xue li hong (雪里红)
xue li hong (雪里红)

xue li hong (雪里红) is a variety of Chinese mustard greens, without a name in the universal English. Mostly Chinese prefer pickling  them first in large quantity and use them as a very tasty side ingredient in many dishes. Sometimes we cook fresh xue li hong (雪里红) as well.  Both fresh and pickled xue li hong  (雪里红) are one of the best side ingredients for fillings of wontons, dumplings, pancakes, steamed buns, etc.  In Chinese culture, xue li hong (雪里红) are a kind of very healthy vegetables. Click vegan recipes here.

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