Thanks to the abundance of rich soil and diverse climate, China produces a variety of vegetables with intriguing colors, shapes, sizes and textures, ranging from juicy round-shaped melons to favorsome umbrella-shaped mushrooms. As one of the main ingredients of Chinese meals, vegetables can be found in nearly every dish on the dining table in China. They are used mostly to balance the tastes and to color the dish, but they are also cooked as vegetable dishes in their own right. Let us have a look at some Chinese vegetables.
It is very common all over the world, potatoes are round, oval or oblong tubers with white, yellow, red or brown skin, depending on the variety. Potato’s flesh is white or pale yellow. It contains twice to three times the minerals that common grains have, and is especially rich in phosphorus. It also contains a large amount and variety of vitamins and organic acids. However, it contains only small amounts of fat, so it is considered as ‘the best food’ in the world. It is eaten as a staple food or vegetable, or made into starch or products as fries and chips.
Green Sweet Pepper
A variety of capsicum, green sweet pepper is bigger, less spicy than the small variety. While the smaller, hot pepper is used as a seasoning, the green pepper is eaten as a vegetable. It is lantern-shaped or crescent-shaped, and comes in various colors, including fresh green, red, yellow and purple. It can be cooked as a dish by itself or used in other recipes to add flavor and color. It is warm-natured, with strong ability to heal and remove pain. Its active ingredient capsaicin is an antioxidant which can help to reduce cancer, increase appetite, aid digestion and reduce fat and weight.
Seaweed (Porphyra) is leaf-shaped and dark brown, red or purple. It grows along the high tide mark of the inter-tidal zone and thrives in nitrogen-rich water. It contains up to 35% protein, iodine, and many vitamins as well as inorganic salts, and tastes delicious. It is used in cooking after being dried and processed. Seaweed is mainly used as an ingredient in soups or as a dressing for meat or other specialty dishes such as the well-known dried seaweed rolls of Korea. It is also used in herbal medicine for curing goiter, chronic bronchitis and hypertension.
Also named ‘love apple’, tomato is a round shaped red fruit, with a savory and sweet taste. It can be eaten raw, stir-fried with other vegetables or used for soups. Tomato is nutritious, rich in multi-vitamins, multi-minerals, carotene, protein and organic acids. As a result, it can help strengthen the stomach and promote digestion, reduce the fat and prevent and resist cancer. It can also be used in beauty treatments for skin protection.
Eggplant, one of the few purple vegetables, is round or oval shaped. It can be made into delicious cold or hot dishes through stir-frying, braising, boiling or frying. Its value lies in the purple skin which contains vitamin B and C, so people are advised not to remove the skin when cooking eggplant. Eggplant also contains lots of other nutritious elements. It’s said that there are 750 milligram vitamin P in every 100 grams eggplant, which is quite exceptional among the vegetables. Vitamin P is very helpful for improving cardiovascular function.
Cucumber is very common on dinning tables all over the world. It was brought in China by Zhang Qian, a Chinese explorer of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 24 AD). Tender cucumbers range from milky to dark green in color. There are usually white, brown or black burs on its skin. It is favored for its nutrition and low price. It is cold in nature, having the functions of removing toxin for detumescence and promoting the production of body fluid and relieving thirst. It is also used for beauty treatments to moisten the skin.
Black fungus is round, ear or irregularly shaped and dark brown in color. It is soft when fresh and becomes crispy when dried. It is a well-known nutritious edible fungus in China, tasting tender and smooth with a unique flavor. It is rich in amylase colloid which can absorb and collect dust that has accumulated in body's digestive system, clearing the stomach and intestines. Therefore, it is necessity for miners, weavers and workers in chemical factories. It is also helpful for preventing and curing atherosclerosis, heart disease, tumors and cancer.
Lettuce is a leafy vegetable, light green in color. The leaves taste tender and crispy. It can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be a dish by itself or mixed with other ingredients. It should not be cooked on high heat for long in order to keep its crispy taste. It is rich in iodine which has good effect on the body’s metabolism and figure development. It is also a good vegetable for breast growth. However, it is recorded in ancient books that it may weaken people’s eyes.
Pictures of the Local Chinese Vegetable Markets: Xi'an Market, Pingyao Market in the Morning, Xizhou Farmer's Market & Morning Market in Yuanyang County of Yunnan
Read more: Top 15 Vegetarian Chinese Food Recipes