One of the things we love about shopping at our local farmers' market every week is the sense of community; we've gotten to know our vendors and are familiar with their products throughout the seasons. (We are also spoiled by living near the Hollywood market, which is one of the largest in town.) However, with nearly 90 Certified Farmers' Markets in LA County, we like to make the effort to explore other markets from time to time, learning about different foods and neighborhoods. We recently visited the Alhambra Farmers' Market, which is notable for its large selection of Asian produce.
General seasonal produce and a handful of prepared food vendors can be found at the Alhambra market, but the real highlights are the Asian vegetables, fruits, and herbs. The market has a lively, bustling atmosphere with produce of particular interest to Alhambra's Chinese community. Here are some of the things we saw...
Bitter melon leaves
While some of these items are favorites from our Chinese-Vietnamese upbringing, we also encountered veggies we didn't recognize. Language barriers or unfamiliar produce can be intimidating, but we think it's a great opportunity to discover new tastes! On weeknights, our easiest go-to preparation for Asian gourds, greens, and beans is to quickly stir-fry them in sesame oil, garlic, soy sauce, and white pepper. We might also add cilantro or scallions. For further reference and recipe inspiration, a good book is A Cook's Guide To Asian Vegetables by Wendy Hutton.
Related: Cooking By Flavor: Asian Flavor Combinations
(Images: Gregory Han)