While many vegetables in Hong Kong grow year-round, not all types of produce are available all the time, and it simply isn’t as tasty when it isn’t eaten in season. Now that we’re entering into the hot summer months in full-swing, we can look forward to some of the most delicious vegetables the region has to offer. Plus, many of these are “cooling” crops according to practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which may help us beat the heat.
1. Water spinach (通菜)
Water spinach, also known as morning glory, tung choi and kan kun, is harvested in the summer months and is often enjoyed in stir-fries along with fermented bean curd and garlic.
2. Winter melon (冬瓜)
Winter melon (dong gua) is actually consumed during the summer months, because it is believed to help clear the summer heat and dispel “dampness” or humidity in our bodies. Chinese families usually boil winter melon soup to serve during dinner – try this easy winter melon soup recipe that calls for Chinese red dates, beans and dried tangerine peels. Other long-boil Chinese soup combinations include winter melon with corn, sliced shiitake mushrooms and a bit of white pepper.
3. Bitter melon (苦瓜)
If you haven’t already, you’ll start noticing bitter melon or fu gua appear everywhere in the markets. The fruits are harvested this season, and helps bodies to cool down during the hot and humid months. Try stir-frying it with garlic and a bit of brown sugar to serve with rice, or try this recipe from Omnivore’s Cookbook that pairs it with fermented black beans. If you can’t stand the bitterness, try juicing the melon with some sweeter fruits such as apples and pears.
4. Amaranth (莧菜)
While technically considered a weed and sometimes grown as flowers, some species of amaranth greens – yin choi – are commonly eaten this season. They are usually cooked in a savoury broth, which turns reddish-pink in colour due to the pigment from the leaves.
5. Choi sum (菜芯)
Finally, everybody’s favourite – choi sum. This leafy vegetable is served year-round, but did you that it is tastiest in the summer months? Boiled, braised, steamed or stir-fried, there are just so many ways to enjoy the now world-famous Cantonese greens.
Lead image courtesy of Omnivores Cookbook.