Yu Choy is a leafy vegetable that produces tender fleshy stalks 20-30 cm high. Its greens range from light to dark green and have an elongated oval shape with lightly serrated margins. The small yellow flowers first appear as green buds in loosely compacted clusters of 10-20. They open to expose four bright yellow petals once the plant has about 7 or 8 mature leaves. On the palate Yu Choy is distinctively peppery with broccoli and cabbage notes balanced by a mildly sweet taste of baby spinach.
Yu Choy is available spring through fall.
Yu Choy is a flowering vegetable in the Brassica family that is also known as Green Choy Sum, Choisum, You Cai, Cai Hua, Yai Tsoi, Caisin, Flowering White Cabbage, Mock Pak-Choi or False Pak-Choi. It is botanically classified as Brassica rapa var. parachinensis. Yu Choy is often confused with Chinese broccoli but may be distinguished by Chinese broccoli's unique white flowers. Yu Choy flowers are bright yellow with petals that form a distinctive “cross” shape, a marker for all plants in the family. To compound the confusion, any flowering brassica can technically be referred to as Choy sum.
Yu choy may be added raw into salads, particularly the young leaves and sprouts. In Asian cuisine, the leaves and flowering stems are often cooked in a similar manner to Bok choy, stir-fried, steamed, blanched or added to soups. Complimentary flavors include garlic, sesame, lemon, chicken stock, soy sauce and Chinese cuisine.
Yu Choy is native to China and is one of the region’s most popular vegetables. It is a cool weather annual that flowers within 30-50 days of planting and can provide as many as three harvests in warmer climates with longer growing seasons. It is cultivated in Asian farming communities throughout the Western hemisphere where it readily adapts to similar climatic and soil conditions.