Asian Gourmet Garden
1. Thai Basil ‘Sweet Thai'. Planted around May 20; can be harvested around July 18. Can be used as a garnish. Authentic in Thai cooking and also makes good pesto. Served raw Thai & Vietnamese platters or added to stir-fried beef and chicken dishes.
2. Tah Tsai. Sown outdoors around April 15 and harvest begins around May 30. Harvest will be completed around June 15; a second planting will be made in the fall around September 15 and harvested around the end of October. The spoon-shaped leaves can be used in salads, stir-fries or steamed. It would be classified as a spinach mustard.
2. Chinese Cabbage ‘Monument' Michihili Cabbage. A summer/early fall crop, sown outdoors on June 15 and harvest begins around September 1. Chinese cabbage has a sweet-mild taste and can be used raw in salads; a versatile vegetable used in soups, braised, or stir-fried with meats. It has a sponge-like quality that absorbs flavor easily. Large outer leaves can be parboiled. Ignore tiny black spots sometimes found near the base, these are normal and result from unpredictable weather conditions. Used in the treatment of ulcers because it contains vitamin U.
3. Cilantro ‘Large Leaf'. Spring/summer first sowing April 15 and harvest begins June 9; second sowing around June 23 and harvest begins August 17. Roots can be ground and used in marinades and curry pastes. Leaves used for garnish, dipping sauces or chopped and sprinkled to add flavor to many dishes.
3. Snow Mustard Kyoto Mizuna. Fall crop sown August 31 and harvest begins October 5. Excellent steamed with baby vegetables or fresh in salad mixes.
4. Amaranth ‘Vietnamese Red'. Sown indoors April 15, planted outdoors May 20. Harvest will begin around July 9. Harvest leafy stem tips to cook in any recipe that calls for spinach. Also used in soups and stir-fries. Remove flowers before they go to seed.
5. Pac Choi ‘MEI Qing Choi'. First sowing April 15 and harvest begins May 30; second sowing June 15 and harvest begins July 30; third sowing August 15 and harvest begins September 30. Bok Choi cooks quickly and is good stir-fried or chopped and added to soups.
6. Garlic Chives or Chinese Leeks. Will be planted on May 20 and harvest will begin August 18. Garlic chives are good stuffed in summer rolls, added to dumpling fillings, snipped and sprinkled over cooked dishes or in soup or as a garnish.
7. Yard Long Bean ‘Red Noodle'. Seed sown May 15 and harvest begins around August 9. They are drier, more dense and crunchier in texture than regular green beans. Mild flavor blends well with pungent spicy seasonings. Chopped finely, they can be fried in an omelet. They also can be deep-fried and mixed with soy sauce, garlic and chili paste or blanched and served in salads.
8. Garland Chrysanthemum Shungi Ku. First sowing April 15 and harvest begins May 31; second sowing June 15 and harvest begins July 30; third sowing August 15 and harvest begins September 30. A flavorful addition to salads, vegetables, pickles and sushi, use the cut greens.
9. Turnip ‘Hakurei'. First sowing April 15 and harvest begins May 23; second sowing June 8 and harvest begins July 16, third sowing July 31 and harvest begins September 7; fourth sowing September 15 and harvest begins October 23. ‘Hakurei' used in salads, light cooking and pickling. The tops are useful raw or lightly cooked with the roots. Best harvested young, 2" diameter, flavor is great raw, sweet and fruity texture is crisp and tender.
10. Eggplant Asian ‘Tango'. Planted June 1 and harvest begins around July 30. Asian eggplants have a mild flavor and soft absorbent texture. Use them for stir-fried with strong spicy seasonings and meat or egg. They are also good braised in curries, grilled, and topped with a light tangy sauce, roasted or deep fried in tempura or half it and spread it with one or two cubes of fermented bean curd and steam it. Eggplants are said to prevent hardening of blood vessels.
11. Thai Pepper ‘Super Thai'. Planted June 1 and harvest begins around August 10. Good taste adds zest to stir-fry dishes, sauces and other foods. Used whole in garnishes and added to soups.
12. Daikon Radish ‘Discovery'. First sowing April 15 and harvest begins June 15. ‘Summer Cross #3; second sowing June 30 and harvest begins August 26, ‘Miyasheige'; third sowing August 31 and harvest begins October 20. Daikons have a sweet mild peppery flavor and is juicy and crisp. There are many uses for it, in salads, shaved into thin threads as a sushi garnish, grated and added to dipping sauces, deep fried for tempura, braised or stewed. In china mainly in slow cooked stews, soups and braised dishes, much like a potato. In Vietnam caramelized with fish sauce and sugar in slow cooked fish and pork dishes, used raw in salads. In Singapore soft grated shreds are fried with garlic and egg. White radish is also pickled and a good source for vitamin C. When harvested rock hard it can store up to two weeks refrigerated.
13. Bitter Melon ‘Chinese Long White'. Will be sown direct on June 1 and harvest begins around August 10. Mild and tasty, a must for stir-fry or sautéed with rich, salty and spicy ingredients to mellow the bitterness this particular variety is more mellow. Fruit can be cut in half and parboiled in salt to reduce bitterness. You can dig out inner membrane and stuff shell with seasoned minced pork, then steam it. Bitter Melon can keep up to 5 days in a vegetable crisper. This cooling fruit is said to be a blood purifier and good for digestion.
14. Garlic ‘California White'. Are potted and will go in the ground around April 15 and harvest begins sometime around the end of July-first part of August. Garlic is part of the Chinese Trinity of Chinese cooking in many of the cuisines peeled, sliced or crushed. Young bulbs are milder tasting than older ones.
14. Scallions or Bunching Onions ‘Ishikura Improved'. Will be sown soon after garlic is harvested and harvested itself sometime around October. Used raw to add flavor and add a touch of bright green color to soups, noodle dishes, or stir-fries and wrapped in rice paper rolls. Add scallions to sliced beef pieces and chopped watercress to an egg batter and fry into patties. Chop and add these to stir-fries.
15. Snap Pea ‘Sugar Snap'. Will be sown April 15 and harvested around June 15. They make delicious additions to stir-fried vegetable dishes, soups and salads. They go well with fresh shrimp. They should be used within a couple of days.
15. Cucumber Asian/Burpless ‘Soyo Long'. Summer
16. Mung Beans. Will be sown May 20 and harvested around the end of September. Can be used when sprouted. Toss whole sprout in a number of dishes which adds a light crunchy texture. If you want them to stay crisp don't add to a hot mixture until just before serving. Can be stir-fried, pot boiled and drained, cooked for one minute then chill and can be used in a salad.