Choi Identification: Local Gai Choi (本地芥菜)

Don’t be fooled by its frilly leaves because this member of the mustard family packs a punch! With its yellowish-green colour and fleshy, pale stalks, gai choi is yet another locally grown vegetable that you should definitely try. This week, we picked up fresh gai choi at Jia Mei Market and made a delicious meal out of it!

IMG_0149Commonly referred to as “芥菜” (pronounced as gaai choi in Cantonese and jiè cài in Mandarin), 芥菜 is a leafy green vegetable that can also be known as Chinese mustard greens. We were able to pick up 芥菜仔 (aka baby 芥菜) from Jia Mei Market, which has a sweeter taste and more tender texture. Depending on the type of vegetable, keep an eye out for the character “仔” (pronounced as zai in Cantonese and zǎi in Mandarin) or  “心” (pronounced as sum in Cantonese or xin in Mandarin) on market signage if you’re looking for choi that was harvested when it was young.

How to select and prepare
Although the 芥菜仔 we purchased was already packaged in medium sized bags, you can still pick the best choi if you keep the following tips in mind:

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  • Pick 芥菜 with freshly cut stems when possible to ensure that you’ll be getting the best of the best! (With that being said, stems with drier cuts can be easily pared away during preparation.)
  • Select 芥菜 with rigid stalks and leaves; this will help your choi maintain its crisp texture even after cooking.
  • At the Markets in Chinatown, you can always ask to bag up veggies according to your needs – smaller or larger amounts!

芥菜 has a slightly bitter flavour that can be alleviated through the use of ginger. Like other choi, 芥菜 can be prepared in a variety of ways: pickled, stir-fried or even braised. The choi-ce is yours!

To learn more about other local choi in Chinatown, click here.