Crops & Varieties: Asian Greens
Similar in appearance to the Yukina, but with a different basic blend of flavors. This one is good for stir-fries, with a pleasantly pungent flavor.
| Vitamin Green
Sweet, juicy, with a notable lack of bitterness. Simple flavor, thicker leaf; its shiny texture visual texture alludes to its chewier texture when munched.
With the thickest stems of the bunch, bok choi is best cooked, though tender, young leaves are good to eat raw. Bok choi works best in stir-fry dishes or with the stems simmered in a tasty sauce, with the greens added at the last minute.
| Red Rain
A spicy, complexly flavorful mustard green. Holds up well in cooked dishes, but should also be used in salads to spice things up.
Similar to Vitamin Green, with more complex flavor, especially in the stem. A more mustardy, thinner leaf, too.
| Tokyo Bekana
Another complex, earthy flavor, with a really sweet-yet-bitter flavor that might make you freak out about how good it is.
Mouthwatering taste and complex, slightly bitter aftertaste. Nutty, earthy, most similar to arugula of the bunch, as far as flavor goes. "Savoy" means dense, wrinkled leaves.
Technically members of the brassica cabbage family, all these varieties have a few things in common: hearty stems, tender leaves, and a wide array of possible uses. Generally somewhat peppery, pleasantly bitter and refreshing, these mild Asian greens are surprisingly versatile. What you find in the boxes most frequently may change over the course of the season, but this will stil be a great place to get some ideas about how to cook with these staples of our CSA.
- All Asian greens enliven considerably by being thrown into very cold water before eating. When used for salad (especially Mizuna, Tatsoi, Vitamin Green, and Tokyo Bekana) a quick soak will keep the greens perkier.
- Thin-leaf cabbages are the best for wilting, stirfries, quick cooking and slaws -- or even as a replacement for spinach in lasagna. All Asian cabbages benefit from intense heat but, unlike ordinary cabbage, boiling dulls its snappy flavor.
- Asian greens are versatile and can be treated like both cabbages and greens. Simply cut off the base and then chop them up, leaves and all. Leaves and stalks can be sliced into strips, crosswise or lengthwise.
- Tatsoi (“spoon lettuce”) is particularly mild with a taste similar to spinach; it can easily be treated in the same way.
- Mix any of these greens with collards or kale to add flavor and complexity to the mix.
- Chop coarsely and stir-fry. Unless it’s a baby variety, cut the leafy part away from the stem and give the stem more time in the wok (or pan) since the stem takes a bit longer than the leaves take in order to cook.
- Toss into soups for an extra kick of greens.
- Allow to cook in soups for up to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the leaf.
- For leafier greens like tat soi, rinse and cook greens as you would chard, spinach, or collards. To clean, cut off the hard ends, vigorously swish the greens in cold water, then lift them out of the water (leaving the dirt on the bottom of the bowl).
- Enliven a salad by mincing in some of the flavorful stems.
Store in a perforated plastic or produce bag in crisper drawer of refrigerator. Not great for long-term storage, but will last through the week pretty well. As usual, don’t wash before storing. Remove wilted leaves before preparing.
Preserving the Soul (CSA Member Ben S.): Red Rain Ravioli / Spinach Filling/Dip