If you love Asian cuisine, then you should start your own Asian vegetable garden. Whether it’s pak choi, wasabi or coriander, you can grow the most important types in a garden bed or in a pot on the terrace or balcony. This way you can always have fresh ingredients for Japanese, Thai or Chinese dishes at home and save yourself the trouble of going to the Asian market or to the delicatessen. Here are the most important species for home cultivation.
Asian lettuces also belong to the mustard family. All types of Asian lettuce, for example the popular leaf mustard (Brassica juncea) or the Chinese salad herb mizuna (Brassica rapa nipposinica), are fast-growing and are cultivated as annual leafy vegetables. The leaves grow in various shapes and colors and taste different mild to spicy. The advantage of Asian lettuces is that you can grow them, also as baby leaf lettuces, wonderfully easily on the balcony. To do this, sow the seeds in pots at the window at a distance of ten centimeters. In the summer you can harvest already three weeks after sowing.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) with its characteristic tart-sweet aroma is a culinary herb from the umbellifer family (Apiaceae) and an integral part of many Asian dishes. Both its seeds, crushed in a mortar, and the fresh green leaves are used. You can grow coriander in pot culture and in the bed. A distinction is made between leaf and spice coriander. Especially the leaf coriander you should provide shade on hot balconies. Already four to six weeks after sowing, the culinary herb is ready for harvesting with sufficient watering.
Pak choi (Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis) is also known as Chinese mustard. The Asian cabbage vegetable from the mustard family (Brassicaceae) is indispensable for many Asian dishes, extremely robust and also not difficult to cultivate. Pak Choi produces dark green leaves similar to chard with thickened and spicy stems. Pak choi can be grown in advance or sown directly. In a container, you can grow the vitamin-rich leafy stem vegetable well as a baby leaf salad. In this case, the leaves are ripe for harvesting just four weeks after planting. Pak choi tastes great raw in a salad or cooked as a vegetable dish.
Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiora), also called “Bai Horapa”, is a species of the genus basil. Thai basil loves a sunny and warm place, preferably on the balcony or terrace. You should seed the Asian culinary herb only after the last frosts. The soil should be nutrient-rich and well-drained. Thai basil is characterized by its spicy-sweet aroma and a subtle hint of anise. You can season salads and soups with the leaves or garnish Asian dishes with them. Important: The leaves are usually not cooked, but only added to the dishes at the end.
If you prefer a somewhat spicier root vegetable and love Japanese cuisine, then wasabi (Eutrema japonicum) is just right for you. The Japanese horseradish, which is usually served in the form of light green paste with sushi, also belongs to the cruciferous vegetables. As a seasoning herb, you can cultivate wasabi in a pot in a shady location with reasonably cool temperatures. It is advisable to place young plants in a pot with humus rich and loamy soil and use a saucer in which there is always some water. Place the pot at temperatures of about 18 °C / 64 °F. However, it can take up to 18 months before you can harvest the rhizomes and grind them into a powder.