As a gardener, I love to check out other vegetable gardens. Outside the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, I stumbled up the Victory Garden, a re-creation of a WWII era vegetable and flower garden. In this lovingly-tended garden, I spotted the bright green mizuna.
Mizuna is a slightly bitter leafy green that is excellent this time of year and so easy to grow. Being a very early spring green, we're usually eating it before pests and garden insects become a problem. Mizuna is so good added to a spring greens mix for salads!
Here are some of my dad's steamed buns, in the steamer, just before cooking. He's a pro at making a dough that is just thick and sturdy enough to hold the filling and its juices together. A couple of these are great for a light lunch, and if there are leftovers, I love them just as much pan-fried.
These steamed buns are filled with shredded Napa cabbage, mung bean noodles, wood ear mushrooms, and a tiny bit of dried shrimp. If you're lucky, you'll get a little hunk of pork belly inside too. The high water content in the Napa cabbage makes this filling so juicy.
Natural sponges DO come from the sea. Yes.
But these long scrubber type sponges are actually the skeletons of fruiting vegetables you can grow yourself (and eat mid-summer!)! Here's an old blog post from my family/garden blog that tells all about it. Now is the time to put in your seed order if you want to plant luffa gourds to eat and then save to dry and use as sponges.
If you're going to grow luffas for use as sponges, look for "dishcloth" or "sponge" or "smooth" luffas. They are wider in circumference than the "angled" luffas used in Chinese cuisine. Many seed suppliers have luffa seeds, but my favorite company, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, definitely carries a wide variety.
What do gardeners love?
Because it makes leafy plants big and green!
How do we get it?
That is right. The soybean, well-known in the food world by its Japanese name - edamame, is a legume that actually fixes nitrogen in soil. See the little tiny nodules found all over the roots of this pulled-out edamame plant? These nodules allow more nitrogen to be delivered to the soil for the next plants that go in that spot in the garden. This means you get to enjoy the easy-growing, nutty and delicious edamame AND make your garden better in the process. It’s a win-win situation.
I'm Wendy Kiang-Spray, gardener, home cook, and author of The Chinese Kitchen Garden. Learn more about the book here. Enjoy the blog and be sure to like The Chinese Kitchen Garden Facebook page for notifications when there are new posts.