Patchoi's perfect for dieters
Patchoi is one of my favourite vegetables because it is very easy to grow and matures fast—usually in three weeks or less. I love this leafy vegetable because it is so easy to cook and goes well with almost anything.
Another good part, it looks so good in the garden and the pot.
Patchoi, brassica chinensis, is a member of the cabbage family that forms a small, elongated head with plump white stalks, dark green leaves with a slightly bitter taste.
This leafy vegetable has many names. I recently read that if the stems are white it is bok choy, but if the stems are green it is patchoi with a variety of spellings. Cantonese Chinese call it pak choi, pechay, or bok choy; the Mandarin Chinese call it pe-tsai. It is also called choi sum, celery cabbage, white cabbage, Chinese cabbage, or Chinese leaves.
Patchoi originated in China. During the Ming dynasty there is a record of this leafy green being studied for its medicinal qualities. Patchoi migrated throughout Asia and travelled with the Chinese workers sent to Europe, Australia, and the Americas to mine gold and construct the railroads in the 1800s.
When the railroad and other construction jobs were completed, the oriental workers began their own gardens and markets.
Patchoi is easy to grow from either seeds or transplants. The best soil pH is between 6 and 7 and definitely not lower than 5.
Fork the soil soft, mix in some well-rotted manure (to help retain moisture), and prepare mounded rows.
The raised mounds are necessary for drainage, but not higher than six inches so the soil doesn't become too warm. Place plants eight inches apart. It grows best in direct sun if it is watered at least once, or better twice a day.
The last watering should be before two in the afternoon to permit the leaves to dry before dark inhibiting any fungus.
The sun's heat is its biggest enemy causing it to wilt and die. We keep it under a shade cloth for the first ten days.
A higher nitrogen fertiliser mix can be applied very lightly once a week. Cabbageworms and flea beetles are the biggest pests. Because the soil is always moist, fungus can be a problem.
Patchoi should be ready to pick after a month. We have grown it to maturity under shades in 17 days.
It is a very profitable, but fragile crop. It is best to cut it with a knife, and use fresh, but can last in the fridge for a week.
When purchasing, check for leaves with no black or slimy spots.
Patchoi is rich in vitamin C, fibre, and folic acid. All reduce the risk of various types of cancer.
Patchoi has more beta-carotene than other cabbages with more potassium and calcium. A perfect food for dieters, one cup of cooked patchoi has only 20 calories, with no fat, but 3 grammes of carbs and 3 grammes of protein.
To prepare patchoi, first rinse thoroughly and shake or pat dry. Young patchoi has a mild flavour and can be eaten raw while mature stalks are slightly bitter. This bitterness is transformed into a sweet creamy taste by cooking.
It can be cooked whole, steamed, or braised. If the vegetable is mature, separate the leaf from the stalk as the stalks should cook longer.
After about two minutes the stalks soften from the heat, and then add the leaves.
Patchoi is a necessary ingredient in many Chinese recipes and almost any stir-fry. The stalks can be shredded and lightly sautéed. It is a great addition to soups or stews.
DID YOU KNOW?
Patchoi has been cultivated for over 6,000 years. Seeds have been found in jars in an excavated New Stone Age settlement.
Other names are bok choy, celery mustard, Chinese mustard, Chinese cabbage, spoon cabbage, and Taisai. Its botanical name is Brassica rapa ssp. Chinensis. Asian markets may have as many as 20 different varieties.
Ingredients: one bunch patchoi chopped into three inch strips, two TBS vinegar (preferably rice vinegar), one TBS soy sauce, one well minced garlic clove, half TS of each sesame oil, canola oil, and dry mustard powder (yellow mustard can be substituted)
Method: Steam patchoi, rinse, and allow cooling. In a jar that seals mix all ingredients and shake well. Coat while tossing patchoi. Serves four.
Ingredients: one pack vermicelli noodles – cooked following directions on package, two medium tomatoes chopped, two patchoi leaves sliced into one-inch wide pieces, one half white onion chopped small, one clove garlic minced, one TSP canola oil, salt and spices to taste
Method: In a skillet heat oil to medium high. Add all ingredients except noodles and stir fry for two minutes. Add cooked vermicelli, remove from heat, and stir to combine ingredients.