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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The durian is worth trying primarily for bragging rights, according to Cheung. The fact that “it smells like rotting garbage” may have something to do with that. “It will permeate your whole mouth and even your clothes,“ he says. “Bring it on the train, and you’ll get a seat, I guarantee it”—that is, if you’re allowed on at all; its consumption is forbidden by some airlines and hotels. Cheung was raised eating it, but even he can only enjoy four or five bites before he’s sick of it. “People have made ice cream out of it. I’ve made durian custard. And, when you put it into cream, some of the outrageousness of it does diffuse somewhat.” But the durian may be one to skip—unless it’s on a dare.


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