Korean and Thai varieties to plant

zensojournerFebruary 26, 2009

I'm in the process of learning to cook Vietnamese, Thai and Korean food, but I'm not familiar with what types of vegetables and greens I need and wont be until it'll be too late to start anything that needs to be started indoors. I've got some cookbooks on the way, including:

Flavors of Korea: Delicious Vegetarian Cuisine

Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen

A Korean Mother's Cooking Notes

Buddha's Table: Thai Feasting Vegetarian Style

Thai Food (by David Thompson)

Quick & Easy Vietnamese: Home Cooking for Everyone

Into the Vietnamese Kitchen

Vietnamese Fusion: Vegetarian Cuisine

The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking

I'm not vegetarian per se but I don't much care for meat, so I have a natural penchant to lean towards using more vegetables and more vegetarian style cooking.

I've been cooking Indian food for over 30 years so I've got that under control, LOL! I love Thai and have a limited Thai repertoire to date. I love Korean food, especially the banchan that come with the meal (they're SUPPOSED to be side dishes but they make a meal in themselves as far as I'm concerned), but I don't cook it at all. Vietnamese is the cuisine with which I am least familiar.

I looked at the Asian vegetables on Fedco and Evergreen Seeds and they are pretty confusing, the latter in particular has 4 different "Korean cucumbers" and I have no idea how to choose. There are also a bunch of Thai eggplant varieties, most of which seem to be small round green types, again I have no basis for choosing. There is only one variety of "Korean eggplant" so at least that one's easy though it looks like I could use any long oriental variety (of which I have several on the way). I've got Ravenna, long green eggplant coming, I'm kind of assuming that'll do for the "long green" eggplant style under Thai varieties even though its from India.

And then there are herbs, greens, radishes, and cabbage varieties, and these I have not the slightest idea of what I may need. Buying fresh oriental vegetables isn't an option here, the only store in town that carried anything like that went out of business. I could be hard pressed to come up with lemon grass from now on, had I realized they were closing I swear to high heaven I'd have stopped in there and bought up their remaining stock, LOL!

I've ordered some lemongrass seed but don't know how trying to grow that will work out since it'll have to be container grown and moved indoors in winter.

Any suggestions?

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Well, I'm getting more into Asian vegetables myself, and there are a lot of choices. It may come down to doing what I did -- just order an assortment of different things to try, and see what you like and what does well for you. Then, keep the things you really like, don't grow the ones you don't like or don't do well for your, and keep trying new ones.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 3:27PM
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Hi! My husband is Korean and from ten years experience cooking for him (and having my MIL come here and cook), here's what I can share.
1. Cucumbers -- really, any variety will do. A kirby, or pickling cuke is probably better since it has less water, but all summer long we pick whatever cucumber is ripe from the garden and make oye salad -- yum! (just drain slicing cucumbers first so the water doesn't dilute the dressing.
2. Eggplant -- Pingtung long or other Asian long eggplants are preferred.
3. Cabbage - Napa
4. Peppers - korean peppers are long, green and not too hot. I'm sorry, I don't know the variety name. We grow jalepenos in our garden and my MIL uses them the same way.
5. Herbs -- garlic chives are necessary for many kimchis. They are just as invasive in the garden as regular chives.
6. Scallions/green onions -- used fresh in alot of dishes.
7. Radishes - korean radishes are weird and I've never seen one that isn't pickled or kimchi'd. They are NOT daikon.
8. Spinach -- my MIL has never made a bib bim bop or japchae without spinach
9. Leaf lettuce -- to make a ssam (wrap rice, thinly sliced garlic, hot pepper paste and the barbecued meat of your choice in a lettuce leaf - make a packet, not a roll - then eat it in one bite)

I'd say if you can get ahold of korean hot pepper powder, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, sesame seeds, kim (roasted seaweed), and gochujang (pungent hot red pepper chili paste), you should be set.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 7:00PM
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Well I love Kitazawa seeds they have lots of things for you to check out. I recomend the white nebuka bunching onion.


You might enjoy this food blog also. Try the ginger scallion oil. I used the bunching onions from the garden and it turned out great. I think its more Chinese but it will add flavor to alot of things.


Make a batch and have for the rest of the week to add lots of flavor to stir fries or plain rice. This stuff is amazing.

1/4 cup corn or peanut oil
maybe 3/4 Tablespoon of ginger
3 scallions loosely chopped

In a food processor, grind the ginger and scallion. Put in a tall bowl or cup. Add healthy pinches of salt. (It should be enough to salt the 1/4 cup of oil.) Heat oil until just smoking. Pour oil over ginger scallion. Be careful, because it will smoke and sputter when you pour it.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 3:10PM
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I think you also need Thai basil and coriander. I have cataloged recipes in Cooking Light magazine and started a folder of recipes I get off the internet. I review recipes I want to try for ingredients I need to buy and/or grow. There are some great recipe blogs I've found thru Chowhound. Last year I grew baby bok choy and a type of Chinese cabbage with seed I got from Johnny's. I'm considering ordering their braising greens seed mix to have a good selection for stir frying.
Don't be afraid to experiment with flavors. I followed the recipe on the can for my husband's favorite Massaman curry and used sweet potatoes like the restaurant does but the last time I made it I used some Confection winter squash (seed from Johnny's) and we thought it was an even tastier dish because of the great flavor the squash has.
Happy gardening. Today it's spring but we still have snow on the ground.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 1:03PM
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re the lemongrass --- if you have a chance to get lemongrass from a market, you can get these rooted easily. Just remove the top green parts of the grass, root the rest in water, changing the water frequently when it gets cloudy. It should start showing roots in a matter of a week or so.

re the korean peppers - just get a ripened pepper and allow to dry out in the fridge. Remove the seeds and grow them.

There are many korean groceries near my place and I am amazed by the variety of vegetables and herbs they offer.. I've also seen such things as aster being offered as vegetables? I don't know what variety it is, but that was how it was labeled.

Hmm., you are making me crave for Korean Pork Bone soup.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 11:37AM
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I think it's a chrysanthemum. It's called garland chyrsanthemum and it's used as a vegetable, not an herb. I was told I should get some but I had already ordered seeds. Plus I think I have a cultural bias against eating flowers, LOL!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 5:51PM
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Anybody is growing sesame?

I use the seeds, oil and just love fresh sesame leaves.
Its flavor and aroma is incredible.
Among other things, I stuff the leaves, as they stuff grape leaves.
I grew som last year. They were about 4 feet high and seeded at the end of season. I froze some leaves and dried alot more.

This year, some of the seeds that fell of the plants last year are growing by themselves.So I don't have to plant them.

What are your culinary use for fresh sesame leaves?


    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 10:09PM
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I think that what you are growing is actually Shiso (Perilla frutescens) which is commonly called "sesame leaves" in Korean recipes. In the link, you can see what the sesame plant (Sesamum indicum) looks like.

Here is a link that might be useful: sesame leaves

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 10:07PM
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"I think that what you are growing is actually Shiso (Perilla frutescens) which is commonly called "sesame leaves" in Korean recipes"

Thank you for teaching me something I did not know.
I always had the impression that what I was growing is a sesame plant. Last year actually I bought some sesame seeds and planted them but did not grow. So I bought the sesame leaves seed from Korean Market , planted them and they grew.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 10:09PM
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I googled and found out that what I have been growing is called: KOREAN SHISO, which is different from other perila/shisoes. Actually Japanes perila/shiso is not botanically related to Korean shiso.

I also found out incredible information about it; that is it has medicinal benefits in addition to its aroma and good taste.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 10:41PM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

I did not see long beans mentioned in the above posts - unless I missed it. These grow exceptionally well in our part of the country; not sure how they do in cooler climates. These are used in many Asian dishes. In fact, I don't believe I have a non-Asian recipe for these. Following is just one example of many recipes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stir-fry Port with Long Beans

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 1:13PM
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"I did not see long beans mentioned in the above posts "

Hey grandad

There is a "yard long beans" thread somewher in this forum.
Also check "Asian Zi Beans" further down.

I think it is the same as "yardlong" beans.

I have planted some seed but I have not noticed them germinating yet. The variety that I planted has red seeds, very similar to red beans. I wonder if red beans come from matured yardlong beans.

Anyway, most beans seem to like warm weather, but peas like cool weather. I have planted sum sugar snap and snow peas way back in FEB and MAR. They have seen frosts but have survived and are growing fine in zone 7.5.

I am anxious to see my yardlongs though.

Gardening is fun.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 10:18PM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

Cyrus, I was just simply responding to the request on which Asian vegetables to grow. Long beans were not mentioned so I added this to the list of potential candidates.

I have not yet planted my 2009 long beans. Our low temps are getting into the 50's which is still a bit too cool for planting. I'll probably wait another week or so before planting. Here are last years..

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 9:55AM
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hi grandad

Gee! 50s is too cold for bean?
No wonder my beans are not growing; Our lows are in mid to lower 40s.

I am very anxious to see those yardlongs. I will be happy with half of the , 18 inches or so.
My snap and snow peas are growing fine. Some of them are couple of feet tall. But like you said, we need warmer night lows (mid 50s) to get everything in the garden excited and moving. I love Asian vegetables and I am trying to grow some of them. I am in zon 7/8(call it 7.5)which is ok but not perfect. I can live with that.

Gardening is fun.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 7:58PM
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I ordered Scarlet Runner beans, Winged Beans, and some variety of yardlong bean from Evergreen. The winged beans look like they're going to be a pain, you have to soak the seed and prestart it indoors to transplant out. Seeds that don't plump up the first go round have to be scarified and then soaked again. Looks like a pain. I think the yardlong beans I got have to be treated the same way. Oh well it'll be interesting I guess, LOL!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 11:28PM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

Cyrus, unlike snap beans, long beans prefer a much warmer climate. (I normally plant snap beans in late March.) On Wednesday, April 22nd I planted half of my 12 foot long bean row. Our daily highs are now mostly well into the 80's and our lows are in the upper 60's. I'll plant the second half of my row in about 2 weeks.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 3:16PM
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Thanks. I know now why none of my beans have germinated.
If you plan bean in late March in zone 9, then I should plant them, like in early May, in zone 7.5. I wonder if my seeds are stil alive in the ground!! But, to be sure I will plant new ones again.
I am mostly interested in long beans, and some colorful pole beans.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 4:12AM
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Granddad i have seen that picture of your longbean trellis extension before. What would happen if you didn't add the extension? Would the beans just start to cascade back down? Would it affect yield? i am very curious!

Cyrus gardener please contact me privately through my Gardenweb member page-thanks!

zensojourner i do not mean to highjack your thread! So far i think no one has mentioned pumpkin or watercress. Watercress is a classic veggie side dish at Korean restaurants here. Thais enjoy pumpkin which is not like the jack o'lantern Americans are familiar with. More like a winter squash or even more like a Japanese Kabocha. Check out this website i just surfed into yesterday, they sell Thai vegetable seeds although they are adapted more to a tropical climate and i am not sure about your zone. i have not ordered from them so i cannot comment on product or service.

Kaffir lime is pretty much a must for Thai food. it is not frost-proof but it should do OK in a pot if you suffer from that affliction ; ) i have heard that this can be ordered from FourWinds if you cannot get it locally.

Cilantro, Mint, Thai Basil have all been mentioned but if you'd like to get really authentic try herbs Culantro and Rau Ram.

Oh and green papaya salad is pretty much classic Thai food. You can use unripe solo papaya but the real green papaya is large, long and used primarily as a vegetable. i've been looking for a seed source myself.

Sawatdi ; )

Here is a link that might be useful: Kilohana farms

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 6:43PM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

Mauirose, yes, the beans would just cascade back down the trellis. The trellis was originally 5 feet; it's now 7 feet. I don't think the production was increased with the extension. Growth of the vines appears to be the same. There is just a smaller bundle of vines at the top of the extended trellis.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 2:51PM
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As a 5'something, I have to wonder how you pick the beans that form at the top...

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 6:32PM
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georgew79(Z5-6 MO.)

I've posted else where about various Asian vegetables that can be found at Baker's Creek Heirloom seeds, www.rareseeds.com they carry a great number of OP Asian vegetable seed some of them can't be found anywhere else. They carry Chinese Red Noodle beans which is one of my favorites, along with wing beans although that one needs a long season with short days to produce the edible tuber and the beans, although the young shoots are tasty stir fried. They carry quite a few eggplants types and have the chinese wax melon and edible snake gourds, lemon grass and a good many others.
George W.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 10:30PM
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Thanks Grandad.

Agree with George W.-Baker's Creek Rocks

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 3:05AM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

Solanum, I set the trellis height based on how high I can reach. At "5 ft something" you too could reach 7 ft depending on the "something".

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 10:11AM
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I am growing Perilla from seeds I harvested last year. Someone gave me some Korean squash plant seeds. They say all parts of the plant are usable as food including the squash, leaves, and vines. I am also growing Tatsoi mustard for the first time. I would like to grow Korean peppers but the peppers they sell in the Korean markets are green, and I don't know if the seeds from them would be mature enough to plant.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 11:33PM
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