Choy of cooking

Explore the new world of Asian greens in markets now

Linda Lau Anusasananan

The farmers' market table is buried in shades of green. Questions ― "What's that?" "How do you cook it?"― punctuate conversation as customers spot unfamiliar, leafy Asian greens, called choy in Chinese.

In California, many come from the San Joaquin Valley, where Hmong immigrants from Laos settled after the Vietnam War.

These farmers, struggling to grow the vegetables of their homeland, have created a bonanza for those in the know, a mystery for the uninitiated.

The most familiar of the greens, such as bok choy, are now sold in supermarkets, but farmers' markets and Asian groceries offer a wonderful range.

The problem is identification. Many greens have more than one name; worse, different greens may share the same name, and some greens come in different stages of maturity.

Rely on our guide ― Get to know Asian greens ― and your knowledge of other leafy greens. Often you can prepare Asian greens the same way you would chard, kale, or collards.