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    Specialty Produce for Celebrating Hmong New Year

    By Debra Morris–

    Give some of your tried and true family recipes a new twist with flavors from other countries. You will find delicious vegetables and products of the Hmong, Lao, and other Southeast Asian farmers, as well as those of Latin American farmers who grow the greens and other vegetables that are familiar to them from their home countries. December brings the Hmong New Year, so we’re celebrating their culture through their food.

    Along with bok choy, Japanese and Chinese eggplant, and Chinese broccoli, they grow an array of greens and vegetables that might be unfamiliar to the Western palate. Amaranth, mustard greens, chayote, water spinach, jicama, sweet potato, pea leaves, lemongrass, longbeans, bitter melon, opo squash, sinqua, and daikon radish are just some of the interesting and flavorful varieties that you can find at the farmers’ market.

    Many of these vegetables can be used in the same way that you would use the Western version of the product. Chinese broccoli can be steamed and roasted; leafy greens can be added to soups and stews; Chinese cabbage can be made into slaw and salads.

    We’re sure that you’ll enjoy whatever you make with these fantastic vegetables. TK Produce from Fresno at the Divisadero Farmers’ Market is new to our farmers’ market family and offers some great specialty produce to enjoy this month. Mild bok choy, big Napa cabbages, savory Chinese broccoli (gai lan), kabocha squash, sinqua, yu choy, and much more fill their tables. Their mounds of leafy greens will be hard to pass up with the large variety. 

    J&M Farms also has bok choy, jujubes, moringa, mustard greens, and several herbs to add to your culinary creations. From Gilroy, they grow a variety of salad greens, spinach, and kale as well.

    Enjoy something a bit different this month and deploy those taste buds with new flavors and textures. Celebrate the diversity that is the Bay Area and California with exciting culinary adventures!

    Sautéed Gai Lan

    2 medium cloves of garlic, chopped or sliced
    1 bunch gai lan (Chinese broccoli), chopped into bite-sized pieces
    2 teaspoons oyster sauce
    1 tablespoon cooking oil
    Salt to taste

    Wash the greens, shake them dry, and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Then peel and chop the garlic. Warm a sauté pan and add the oil.  When the oil is warm, add the greens and garlic together. Sauté and stir until the stems are a desirable texture—not too tough, but not mushy—about 5–7 minutes at medium heat. Turn the heat off and stir in the oyster sauce. Add salt if desired and serve.

    Have a great holiday season from all of us at the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association!

    (Please note: The Castro Farmers’ Market is closed for the season. Until the market returns in the spring, please visit the nearby Divisadero Farmers’ Market, Sundays from 10 am–2 pm at the DMV parking lot at 1375 Fell Street, San Francisco.)

    Debra Morris is a spokesperson for the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA). Check out the PCFMA website for recipes, information about farmers’ markets throughout the region and for much more:

    Published on December 5, 2019