Choi Sum / Chinese Flowering Cabbage (菜芯)
Choi Sum, also known as the Chinese flowering Cabbage, is one of the most popular vegetables in China. Overall, Choi Sum are similar to Bok Choy, as they can be used within cuisine tin the same way.
One can identify Choi Sum by its appearance. The leaves are green and oval. Generally, each individual Choi Sum will have between 6 to 8 leaves, which when at the height of their ripeness are tender and juicy. The stems of the Choi Sum are light green, and conventionally grow to a height between 10 to 40 cm. These stems are uniform in their size, and when preparing they do not need to be peeled. Additionally, Choi Sum also grows flowers, which can also be eaten. However, many remove these flowers before eating.
Although Choi Sum is a winter vegetable, there are also variants available in the summer seasons. The best time to purchase Choi Sum is during the colder season, ranging from anytime between October and February. This is when they are at their best.
Choi Sum are known for their abundance of health benefits and high nutritional values. Choi Sum contains high levels of Vitamin A, fibre and calcium, making it a beneficial addition to any meal. Taste wise, Choi Sum is often described as being similar to cabbage and spinach, but make sure to choose Choi Sum when it is in season.
It is necessary to prepare and clean Choi Sum by soaking and washing them, as to remove any excess dirt or pesticides that may still be lingering on the surface of the skin. With regards to the stalks, one can either leave them on whole or chop as desired, as the whole vegetable is edible. Similar to other vegetables such as Broccoli, Choi Sum can be boiled, steamed or included within stir-fires, especially delicious with meat. When boiling or steaming, drain the Choi Sum and season with salt, pepper, butter and garlic. Choi Sum are also often included within a variety of soups, adding extra flavour.