As I mentioned in my last post about ong choi, cooking stuff you grow at home and the stuff you buy in the market is pretty different because the stuff we grow just shoots out and grows like the wind, which means a lot of the stems are older and extremely fibrous. I’m still trying to get the hang on how to harvest it right, but in the meantime, I have a more simple (and kinda gross) method of checking the stems.
Here’s a photo of how it grows. It’s got one really long vine (you can see I cut one) with tons and tons of offshoots growing up. The leaves are all delicious, so I could technically just cut and cook the leaves. I’m going to see how it tastes in shabu shabu next time we do that.
Anyway, you would think all the offshoots are nice and tender, but I’ve had these offshoots end up being extremely fibrous too, which is a bummer.
First I wash each one and then cut off the side leaves at the stem.
Chop off a 1-2 inch piece at the end. If your knife snaps right through with a light crunch, it’s probably fine. If not, lift up that cut piece and bite into it. If you can’t bite through, like below, cut off another piece and repeat.
As you can see, it’s so fibrous that I couldn’t get through it. This stem, no matter how much you cook it, will make you think you’re eating tree bark.
If you bite and it snaps right through, the rest of the stem should be fine. Obviously, you would throw the bitten piece away.
Here’s a bowl of cleaned, chopped, and bite-tested ong choi, ready for cookin’! If you buy it at the market, no need to bite, as I’ve never had the chewy issue with store-bought ong choi. Maybe I’m just to cheap and I need to just tell myself that since it grows so freaking fast, just tossing away stems that I can tell are too old is fine. It’s hard to explain, but when you cut the ong choi, you can kind of tell which ones will be tender just by the sound of the snip.