Canola as Vegetable

Saturday, March 24, 2007
Back in Canada I knew my way around a grocery store blind, but living in China is like being on another culinary planet - I can hardly identify many of the products, or read much of their labels. Many things I do recognize are used in completely new ways. Grape tomatoes, for example, are a fruit - they decorate pastries and take dips in chocolate fountains. This plant is another example. I was looking for a green vegetable and bought a rag-leafed plant called you cai, or oil vegetable. This ended up being nothing more than canola, which we grow great huge fields of at home with the sole purpose of harvesting it for oil. Here it is eaten just as it buds, and is my new favourite green - lots of flavour without being overly bitter or grassy. I like it more than spinach, raw or cooked.

4 comments:

Sara said...

Very cool! I look forward to seeing different sorts of food from you.

Amanda said...

I'll have to look for that in asian groceries here! Is it common in Sichuan?

Ali said...

Youcai is also beautiful as it blossoms in yellow fields in Gansu and Sichuan (at least that's where I've seen it). Have you tried kong xincai--hollow heart vegetable--yet? It's one of my absolute favorites!

pepper said...

Hi Sara, seeing your comments make me miss Alberta!

Amanda, yes it is all over the place. There seems to be a red variety too, but it is more stem than leaf - more like broccoli.

Ali, the kong xincai is on my long list of things to taste but I haven't had it here yet. I've eaten it in a restaurant at home and remember it being really expensive.