There are usually small stands scattering near the mountain roads selling freshly picked vegetables in Taiwan. Those are usually the elderly locals who grow the greens and root vegetables around the area. What they do is that they'll put up a stand somewhere close to a scenery spot, along the road where visitors often drive by.
One day me and my parents drove passed a main road to the famous Yangming Mountain and saw this stand selling fresh produce. This green bundle caught my eye. What is it? I have never seen anything like this. It's like a flower bouquet but in green color.
Less than $2 U.S, I brought it home. The vendor told me it's called "Ta Gu" or 塔菇 in Chinese. Ta carries meanings of tart or tower, and Gu simply means mushroom. After some research online, I learned that it's a type of vegetable commonly used in Shanghai, China. Haven't known the taste of it, I've decided to simply blanch the green and serve with some refreshing citrus dressing.
Blanched Ta Gu veggie with citrus soy dressing -
1 bundle of Ta Gu veggie
Some katsuo flavored soy sauce (or dashi)
Some toasted white sesame seeds
This recipe is fairly simple. I omitted the use of any heavy tasting seasonings such as chili paste, black pepper, even olive oil in order to get a light and refreshing side dish.
Cut off the very bottom stems from the vegetable. Thoroughly wash every leaves and soak in water for 10 to 15 minutes. I actually soaked it twice in case there are any pesticide residuals.
The Ta Gu veggie looks somewhat similar to tiny bak choy when the center stem has been removed. It actually tastes quite like bak choy, but slightly stronger with its grassy scent.
Press and roll the tangerine to help releasing the juice. Cut the tangerine in half and squeeze the juice into a big bowl. Remove the seeds but do keep the pulps. Mix in some katsuo flavored soy sauce or any kind of flavored Japanese soy sauce. Add till desired saltiness as your veggie dressing.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and toss in drained Ta Gu veggie. Cook till wilted a wee bit, should be less than one minute. Remove from the water and quickly transfer to a big bowl full of ice cubes and cold water to stop the cooking process.
Once cooled down, drain well and transfer the Ta Gu onto a plate. Evenly pour the sauce over and sprinkle some toasted white sesame seeds.
The vegetable looks tough but in fact it's as tender as bak choy. For sure I'll start buying this newly discovered green in the future, as long as I can get a hold of it!