Chinese Produce You’ve Never Eaten

Published in Gourmet Live 01.18.12
Josey Miller uncovers seven Asian fruits and vegetables to try

During a recent trip to Hong Kong, I snapped photo after photo of striking fruits and vegetables, some of which looked vaguely familiar and some of which I’d never seen before. Back at home in New York, I wanted to identify them and learn how to use them in my own kitchen, so I enlisted the help of Chris Cheung, executive chef of Lair, a Chinese fusion restaurant not far from New York’s Chinatown. He shared his kitchen expertise for the following seven food finds—all of which are worth trying…with one possible exception.

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Chinese Eggplant

Don’t be thrown off by the long, skinny look of this veggie; it’s an eggplant, just like the round, black version you’re used to seeing. “The Italian black eggplant is a bit mellower in flavor,” Cheung says. “This one has more character.” These eggplants are easier to chop, can withstand high heats, and are hard to overcook. Cheung also likes their versatility, but he has a favorite can’t-miss preparation: “Combine them with tomatoes, garlic, shallots, and reconstituted Chinese mushrooms, Chinese wine, and soy sauce, and it’s almost magical.” He suggests using that mixture as a filling for dumplings, in place of meat, or as a chunky dip as in this Gourmet recipe for Szechwan-Style Eggplant with Pita Wedges.


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