Thursday, January 19, 2012

Asian Vegetables

Over the last two decades our strong and growing connection with Asia has had a large influence on the food we eat today. A huge variety of Asian vegetables are available in the marketplace and are helping us to expand our culinary exploits. Their distinctive flavours combine well more traditional Australian foods. Many of the plants originate from tropical parts of Asia, particularly China where they have been cultivated and used for centuries.

Many of these plants have strong and distinctive flavours and are often quick growing, tender and have a variety of parts of the plant that can be used. Like many ingredients in Asian cuisine, nothing is wasted. Many of the plants have parts (leaves, flower heads) that can be periodically plucked without disturbing the whole plant. Some of these varieties are ready to harvest in as little as six weeks from sowing and many can be cut and a used throughout the growing season

Some varieties of Asian herbs and vegetables are becoming available in punnets, but they are very easy to grow from seed. Most varieties don’t like to be transplanted so it is a good idea to sow that seed directly. They need to be grown in areas of at least six hours of direct sunlight. In cooler areas most varieties can be planted in autumn or spring once any risk of frost has disappeared. In tropical areas Asian vegetables are a winter crop, so the seed is sown in autumn. When thinning out the seedlings don't throw them away as they are great used in soups and stir-frys. Coriander it is best grown in the shade as it goes to seed more quickly in full sun.

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