Growing up, I seldom get to eat out as my mum and older sisters would tirelessly cook 365 days a year for us all. As they never liked ' diversification ' in their cooking, we got to eat only almost the same types of vegetables everyday - year round. Having left home to be on my own for many years now but being not adventurous myself when it comes to cooking, I have unconsciously picked up their ways of cooking and become a monotonous cook - just like them. Whenever I went to either the wet market or supermarket, it would always be those same types of vegetables that I would pick up and load into my shopping bag or cart every time. I had no interest at all to even hang around a while longer, look for or at , what more try other available vegetables that were on sale.
Though cooking has never been my passion, nor would it likely become one in the future, I ought to somehow, diversify and be more receptive when it comes to using other types of vegetables in preparing my meals - if I want to be a healthy vegetarian.
My interest in using other types of vegetables in my cooking started last year after my visit to Taiwan. While I was there, I had had the taste of some very exciting vegetables like the Bird's Nest Fern ( Asplenium nidus ) ( which I had blogged about HERE sometime back ), Chayote ( Sechium edule ) fruits and shoots, Hongfeng Cai ( Gynura Bicolor ), Madeira Vine ( Anredera cordifolia ), White Bitter Gourd ( Momordica charantia ), and a few more. Most of them were totally new to me though we do actually have them back here in Malaysia.
We may not have Bird's Nest Ferns for sale as vegetables at our every day market like in Taiwan, but we do have plenty of them around us. They could be found growing wild or cultivated as ornamental plants everywhere around our houses, jungles, parks and even roadsides. So, it is pretty easy to get some of their young fronds as vegetables.
|Bird's Nest Fern|
While it is very easy to find Chayote gourds ( fruits ) and shoots for sale at most Malaysian markets, it is most difficult to find its shoots ( especially ) for sale at my place in Ipoh - meaning that, if I want to eat its shoots while I am in Ipoh, I have got to grow the plant myself. My crave for its tasty shoots and leaves had made me, without much thought, sacrificed one good, fresh fruit some time back. I had had a whole fresh fruit buried into the soil at my backyard planter in the hope to have a plant up. But, sadly, nothing has comes up from it and I gave up completely on the hope to grow one since then. So, last week, when I saw the Chayote fruit which my fourth sister had bought the week before has sprouted on her kitchen floor where it was placed, I had the most happy surprise of my life! I will have it planted in the soil at my backyard the next time I go back. Hope it would still be fine to plant then.
|The sprouted Chayote fruit. ( No picture of the plant to show yet )|
Regular readers of my blog would have known that I have had Gynura bicolor and Madeira Vine planted at my backyard for quite some time now. The reason why I planted them is because they are not easily available - whether at my place in Ipoh or Kuala Lumpur. I have harvested them a good number of times since planting ( the Gynura bicolor leaves especially ). They may not be the most impressive vegetables of all in terms of taste and texture but I love them nonetheless.
|The Gynura bicolor plant.|
|The Madeira Vine|
Bitter gourd is one of the few types of vegetables I used to eat since young. I mean the green variety. I was totally unaware of the availability of the white variety. In fact, I had never come across it until I went to Taiwan last year. There, I had seen it being sold at most wet markets and on the menu of almost every Chinese food restaurants. Its pearl white, smooth-skinned fruits looked and still look very appetizing and pretty to me. Back here in Malaysia, I had not seen anyone selling its fruits until a few months back when I happened to stumble upon a family of three selling their limited White Bitter Gourd produce at the Taman Muda, Ampang, wet market. I had bought a few fruits from them in the hope to get some seeds to start my own plants. Unfortunately, all of them were not mature enough. I gave up on the hope to grow one until recently when my fourth sister was given a mature fruit from a very kind man near the market. The seeds from the fruit seemed mature enough and so, I dried and saved them all for later planting. Last few days, I tested with five of the many seeds to see if they are viable. And guess what? They have all sprouted! I have yet to ponder over what to do next with all these wonderful little SURPRISES!
|The White Bitter Gourd sprouts. ( No picture of the fruit or plant to show yet )|
All for now. Thank you for reading this! Bye!