Category Archives: What’s New

Chinese long beans

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This summer I’ve been delighted to see plenty of long beans at the Union Square Greenmarket. Not just the traditional green colored variety but the unusual purple ones. Called dul gock in Cantonese, they are also known as yard-long beans in English. In Chinatown the two varieties you’ll find are light and dark green—never the exotic purple. Summer is the season to eat long beans. Chinese old-timers claim it’s the only vegetable that is neutral, neither yin nor yang. Mama used to say the only vegetable a new mother can eat after giving birth are long beans because they are Read More …

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Best Spatula for Stir-Frying

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When you stir-fry it’s natural to assume you’ll be using a Chinese spatula, also known as a wok chuan in Cantonese. These beautiful tools have a shovel-like shape which means as you stir-fry, each scoop holds more food than a Western spatula. The rounded edge also fits the contour of the wok. I adore the Chinese spatula (pictured left) that I bought years ago in Kowloon, at Chan Chi Kee, the famous knife shop. If only I had bought more. For whatever reason, the Chinese spatulas I find these days look similar to mine but the design is off. Some are Read More …

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Durian and Wild Wampee

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I never know what I’ll discover on trips to Chinatown. On recent visits there have been lychee, longan (dragon eye), rambutans, mangosteens, mangoes, and dragon fruit. This week I was pleased to see the durian vendor was back. As I was admiring him segmenting the fruit into plastic containers, I heard a woman excitedly say in Cantonese, “I haven’t seen wampee in over 30 years!” That’s when I noticed that the other fruit the vendor was selling wasn’t longan. It was something I’d never seen before that had the look of longan, but was smaller with thin skin and fine hairs. In Cantonese Read More …

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Chinese Broccoli

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This week’s Wok Wednesdays dish is Hong Kong Style Stir-Fried Chinese Broccoli. In case you’re wondering what Chinese broccoli (gai lan in Cantonese) looks like here’s a shot I took a few years ago in Hong Kong. In Chinatown produce markets in New York and San Francisco, they’re normally sold in 2-pound bundles. It’s stunning to see them beautifully displayed this way in a Hong Kong wet market. On the top row there’s a stalk that has white buds, (they can even be pale green). Once the buds open and produce yellow flowers the broccoli is past its prime. Also Read More …

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Luffa

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Walking in Chinatown today, it’s so nice to see luffa, also known as loofah, angled luffa, Chinese okra and silk squash, in nearly every produce stand. This time of the year they’re perfect. Young, with a smooth, velvety skin, you’ll find the squash are about 10 to 12-inches in length. Later in the season, I stop eating them because they’re so mature, the skin becomes tough, leathery and hard. In China, the overgrown squash can be 2-feet long, are left in the fields to dry and become the loofah sponge, used for bathing.  I took this photo at one of my favorite Read More …

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