yu choy

 Yu Choy has floppy leaves that drape lazily around clusters of tiny, yellow flowers. The first time I bought a bunch from a farmer in Pike Place Market I had no idea what it was.

I nodded cluelessly when the farmer told me its name the third time. My ears were messed up from being on an airplane the day before and I just couldn’t ask her to say it again. Besides I was busy staring at her hands which were strong, parched and looked completely capable of tilling earth without tools. I’m like that: small person, strong hands. Paws that can make stuff.

Anyway, I was looking at the farmer’s hands when she passed me a Yu Choy bundle. She said it was, “…sharp like mustard. Flower, leaf, stem…eat whole thing.” I heard that.

I took it home and tried to look it up online to no avail. I photographed sprigs of Yu Choy flowers with my pair of small, silver hippos and I didn’t even have a blog yet.

yu choy flowers

Then I made it into a pesto-esque concoction that I loved on everything from sandwiches to pasta.

I decided I was a genius.

It took this genius a year to find Yu Choy again and identify it. I looked out for the old farmer with the strong hands but the part of summer when locals sell vegetables from tables set up on the cobblestone streets, Farm Days, had passed.

Almost a year later I was cruising around Uwajimaya when I saw yellow flowers peeking out from drapey leaves. There it was piled in a pyramid with a little sign above it that read something like, “Yu Choy: steam or stir fry.” Hmmm. What about a pesto application, people?

Yu Choy is related to Chinese broccoli, Gai Lan, and rabe. It is harvested as soon as the stems boost which means as soon as the stems shoot up to support those dainty, yellow flowers. It’s commonly used in Asian dishes so if you can shop at an international market or an Asian market you will likely find Yu Choy hanging out, looking pretty.

Yu Choy is delicious when cooked simply and quickly. I like to stir fry it in sesame oil with whole garlic cloves, shitake mushrooms, a generous splash of stock and a pinch of salt. Yu Choy is slightly sharp in a spinach meets mustard green way yet also mildly sweet.

I haven’t made my genius Yu Choy pesto again but I will. Here’s my current favorite way to prepare Yu Choy:

adapted from Jaden Hair’s Chinese Green Stir Fry recipe posted on her excellent blog Steamy Kitchen

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3 Responses to yu choy

  1. Jackie says:

    Beautiful! Yu Choy pesto sounds amazing as well!

  2. Jaden says:

    Hey there! Thanks for the shoutout…..Love your blog name by the way!

    • fatpig says:

      Thank you for the comment, the compliment and your blog which, as you know, I love. I’m jazz-handing right now because you stopped by and said hello! Total jazz hand moment.