Wednesday, 18 July 2007


Yesterday I dug up some of these gorgeous little things . You may think they are a type of witchety grub or something washed up on the beach but what I planted was 'Chinese Artichokes'. It was a scrawny, tired little plant in a pot, sent from some mail order nursery in Qld. I didn't hold out much hope for it but before long it was becoming a rampant creeper, happily competing with the warrigal greens on equal terms. All summer and autumn it grew and, despite several times trying to find something it was producing, I thought it was a dud. Finally it hit the dust when those freezing nights arrived, a few weeks ago, and I only got around to digging seriously under the soil yesterday. From that one tiny plant I dug up hundreds of these crisp, white fellas 1" to 2" long and , after washing one I tentatively nibbled the edge, thinking it would be starchy or unusual in flavour but no. They are crisp and juicy like a nashi but with a mildly savoury taste - perfect in a salad or thrown into a stir-fry at the last minute to give a little crunch. I would definitely recommend them to grow. I will save a few and I am sure there would be dozens more in the soil, that will grow in spring. Once you have them you probably always have them.

I was still toiling away in the veg garden when Alex's girlfriend arrived. She is Chinese and always looks so clean and elegant and I do wonder what she thinks of me all covered in dirt and excited about some grotty vegetable I have just dug up. Well, since they were called 'Chinese artichokes' I thought I would ask her if she knew them. She said they call them 'sea shells'
because of their shape and she has never seen them fresh before. Usually the Chinese buy them
salted, in tins, and eat them for breakfast !

In the past I have asked her about other so-called Chinese vegetables such as Wom Bok and Bok Choi.
I have found out that these names are not Chinese at all and she has never heard of them before although she does know the vegetable. Wom Bok is known as ' big,white cabbage' in China - a pretty good name.

She has been here when I have dug up my water chestnuts too and told me to boil them for 30 mins and then peel them. I hate to tell her that I prefer them raw and unpeeled. We are so uncouth in Australia.
Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

Maggie said...

As they would say on Iron Chef-
This is a very interesting vegetable, I have not seen it before,it is very crunchy and has a nutty flavour.
I like it!