Old Cucumber

Ingredient Name:  Old Cucumber

Chinese Name:  老黄瓜 (lǎo huáng guā)

What is this?
  • A wildly cultivated plant in the gourd family
  • Cylindrical and elongated body with tapered ends
  • The yellow colouring comes from being an aged cucumber and is normally eaten in its relatively young green state (hence the name old cucumber)
  • It has a very thick and rough viney skin with a fleshy interior and a pocket of seeds and air

How do I prepare it?

  • In soups, old cucumbers are washed and cut into large chucks
  • Ensure to remove the interior seeds and do not remove the skin

Where can I buy this?

  • In most asian supermarkets, you will find this unique type of cucumber
  • In wet marts in Hong Kong, simply ask the produce vendor and they will point you to it
  • Be sure to buy large, firm and heavy in weight cucumbers

What is the cost?

  • Old cucumbers cost around $15-$20 HKD each

Any benefits?

  • Old cucumber is good for clearing heatiness and has a diuretic effect
  • Extremely high in dietary fibre, Calcium and Iron
  • It is also a good source of Vitamins A, B6 and C

Any precautions?

  • Old cucumbers are known to be a “cooling” food
  • Women who are pregnant or menstruating should take caution when consuming this

 Additional Information?

  • It is suggested to boil the cucumber with its skin on because the skin will help keep the flesh together and avoid disintegration

 References 

Bok Choy

Ingredient Name: Bok Choy or Chinese Cabbage
Traditional Chinese Name: 白菜 (báicài)
What is this?
  • Bok Choy is part of the cabbage family and is often called chinese cabbage
  • It has thick, white stalks and dark green leaves that have a round shape
  • Bok choy is available as mature bok choy or baby bok choy
  • It is often used in a variety of Asian dishes (the Koreans use this for kim-chi)
  • Fresh bok choy has a good shelf life of up to a week in the fridge

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash thoroughly with cool water (bok choy usually has a lot of sand and dirt in them)
  • Remove any wilted or yellow leaves

Where can I buy this?

  • You can buy fresh bok choy from most supermarkets

What is the cost?

  • Fresh bok choy is very affordable and costs around $1.50 – $2.00 CAD per 20 stalks

Any benefits?

  • Bok choy is a good source of calcium, vitamin C, and is high in antioxidants
  • It is a high fibre and low calorie vegetable
  • It is sustainable in growth in a variety of weather conditions and therefore can easily be grown almost anywhere in the world

Any precautions?

  • You must soak and clean this product prior to consumption to remove any pesticides and dirt

Resources:

Watercress

Ingredient Name: Watercress

Traditional Chinese Name: 西洋菜 (xīyáng cài)
A very popular vegetable used to remove excess heatiness in the body.  It’s a versitile plant with uses in a variety of cultures.  The one thing that I hate about this plant is the high level of bugs you can find in them.  When boiled in soup, the bugs usually float to the top of the soup – which makes it easy for extraction, but even then, as a kid, it was the grossest thing to see in your soup.  As a mother now, I just wave it off and think “more nutrients” but caution prevails because many of the bugs are actually parasites.


What is this?

  • A fast-growing aquatic plant that is part of the cabbage family
  • It can be eaten cooked or raw and is often found in salads, sandwiches and soups
  • The plant is cultivated before flower buds appear or else the leaves become too rank in flavour for consumption
  • Watercress is not normally found in dried form and therefore can only be stored for a short period of time – ideally, it is consumed fresh
  • This plant is available all year round

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash in cold salted water at least twice to remove potential pesticides and parasites

Where can I buy this?

  • You are able to purchase fresh watercress from most supermarkets
  • It is a highly perishable food and needs to be consumed within a few days of purchase

What is the cost?

  • Watercress is very affordable and costs around $1.00 – $2.00 per bundle

Any benefits?

  • Watercress is high in iron, calcium, folic acid, and Vitamins A & C
  • When boiled in soup, it assists in removing heatiness and relieves coughs
  • Western studies have found that watercress may reduce the risk of cancer

Any precautions?

  • Watercress tends to grow in areas of high animal waste and is good breeding grounds for parasites and bacteria, therefore it is highly recommended to thoroughly wash watercress before consumption
  • Be sure to add watercress to BOILING water, else it will make the watercress bitter
  • Flowering watercress is also bitter, so buy young and flowerless watercress to reduce the chance of bitterness in the soup

Resources

Bok Choy (Dried)

Ingredient Name: Bok Choy (Dried) or Chinese Cabbage
Traditional Chinese Name: 菜乾 (cài gān)
What is this?
  • Bok Choy is part of the cabbage family and is often called chinese cabbage
  • It has thick, white stalks and dark green leaves that have a round shape
  • Drying the bok choy dates back from Chinese history as a way to preserve the vegetable after the harvest season
  • It is often used in a variety of Asian dishes (the Koreans use this for kim-chi)
  • Dried bok choy is highly sustainable in dry weather and can keep for at least 6 months in a sealed container

How do I prepare it?

  • When removed from package, you need to soak the dried bok choy in warm water for at least an hour
  • Wash thoroughly with cool water (bok choy usually has a lot of sand and dirt in them)
  • Cut into smaller, edible pieces if required

Where can I buy this?

  • You can buy this fresh from most supermarkets
  • Dried bok choy is usually found in Asian supermarkets

What is the cost?

  • Dried bok choy is usually sold pre-packaged and costs around $3 – 5 CAD / package (containing around 5 large adult bok choys similar to those pictured above)

Any benefits?

  • Bok choy is a good source of calcium, vitamin C, and is high in antioxidants
  • It is a high fibre and low calorie vegetable
  • It is sustainable in growth in a variety of weather conditions and therefore can easily be grown almost anywhere in the world

Any precautions?

  • You must soak and clean this product prior to consumption to remove any preservatives, pesticides and dirt

Chinese like to use dried bok choy as there is a certain type of taste that comes with it when boiled in soup.  Fresh bok choy will not give you the same taste, but is probably nutritionally better for you.  When making soups, I usually use both dried and fresh to have the best of both worlds.