Growing up in a chinese household, my go-to is always Asian vegetables: bok choy, gai-lan, choy-sum, Chinese chives, you name it. While I love eating salad, I love how simple and comforting Asian vegetables can be. It can be steamed, grilled, or my favorite method, sauteed with garlic. I loved that these vegetables were so versatile in flavor, and when cooked right, it can have a nice balance of crunch and softness at the same time, and will make you crave it and want to cook it all the time.
Vegetables by Season
Eating vegetables that are in season is so important because when vegetables are ripe and full-grown, they are the healthiest and most nutritious to eat. Eating the vegetables during the right season will taste better and you can taste the difference. For instance, during the winter time, it’s harder to grow leafy vegetables, so Asian people tend to eat more melons and gourds like winter melon, brussel sprouts, or cabbage. Springtime is when the leafy vegetables like choy sum, a-choy, chinese chives, are more available.
Health Benefits of Vegetables
Vegetables are obviously healthy for you but how healthy? Vegetables are nutrient dense and low-calorie.Vegetables are also highly fibrous which helps with bowel movement. Some notable highly fibrous vegetables are celery, red beans, shiitake mushrooms, and sweet potatoes. You can never overeat vegetables because the effort to eat the vegetable burns the calories for it.
- Always thoroughly rinse your vegetables. Oftentimes, at Asian supermarkets, you’ll see that vegetables are freshly harvested and will have a lot of dirt in parts of the vegetables. I usually soak my vegetables for a few minutes to let the dirt sink to the bottom of the bowl, and then follow up by rinsing at least 2-3 times.
- Choose an oil that can handle high heat for a longer lasting cook. I use vegetable oil and saffron oil as opposed to olive oil.
- Use a nonstick pan to cook vegetables. Make sure when heating up your pan with oil, that it is warm and not steaming hot. If your pan gets too hot, your garlic will burn quickly and ruin your dish. If your oil is not hot enough, the flavor of the garlic won’t be as strong in your dish.
- 4. The key is regulating the speed. Once the oil and pan is ready, you need to move fast and saute the garlic and vegetables quickly to prevent the garlic from burning or overcooking the vegetables. When you can read the shimmer of a warm oil, your food will not stick to the pan and you will have a nice char on your vegetables.
How to Properly Saute Vegetables
- Chop and prepare your vegetables. Smash 2 cloves of garlic with your knife.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil on high heat. When water starts boiling, pour vegetables in a pot and boil for 1-2 minutes depending on your vegetable. Drain in a colander when the vegetables are cooked al dente. You only want to cook your vegetables partially to achieve that soft but still crunchy texture.
- Test the warmth of your pan by using your hand to hover over the pan to feel if the pan is radiating warmth on your hand. Pour some oil on the pan and swirl the oil to coat the pan. Lift the pan up to see if the oil easily glides around the pan and that it is shimmery.
- Once oil is ready, put in garlic to fry for a minute until garlic browns. Then toss in vegetables and saute for a minute. You can adjust the heat to medium high to make sure the vegetables have a nice char.
- Add in some salt and pepper for seasoning and then lift the pan up to toss the vegetables to coat evenly. Once your vegetables have a nice color, turn off the heat, and put vegetables on the plate. Serve and enjoy!