Monday, 22 July 2013

Taiwan Sword Leaf Lettuce, "A" vegetable, A菜, "A" tsai

This is the beginning of my series on Taiwanese vegetables.
One of the most common green leafy vegetables in Taiwan is so called A菜, "A" tsai or "A" vegetable. Other name is Taiwan Sword Leaf Lettuce. It is unknown in Europe, but it will grow also in Europe, I tried.

It was difficult to find precise information of this simple vegetable in internet, but after looooong search I came into conclusion that in fact it is just a variety of Lactuca sativa L, common "Lettuce", but a Taiwanese variety.

Chinese language hobbyists cannot really agree where this "A" come from, some propose influence of Taiwanese language, some others think it comes from an American word starting with "A", possibly Arden Lettuce.

"A" vegetable is native to Taiwan. Young leaves are tender and stalks are crispy. Long sword shaped leaves are emerald green, mildly bitter flavoured, similar to spinach but more pleasant. In Taiwan this vegetable is stir fried in wok pan. It is very easy to grow and gives harvest in 4 to 8 weeks. I grow it in Europe. European union is criminalizing the use of uncertified or home grown seeds. But the directive is not yet applied. Maybe next year many home gardeners will be criminals. I think this veggie is ideal for green salad. But that use is unthinkable in Taiwan.

First I wash the leaves properly.DSC_6043

Taiwan Sword Leaf gives abundant harvest in 6 to 8 weeks. I harvested after 5 weeks, very young and tender, because I had to travel.

Then fry garlic in olive oil.DSC_6045

 Add the "A" vegetable.DSC_6046
And voilà, ready. Organic. Yummy.


  1. I stumbled upon this blog in search of unique vegetables that I might try to grow at home in Vancouver. Any ideas on where to get seeds?

    1. Hi Aaron, If you go to Taiwan it is easy to find the seeds at any vegetable market. But in Vancouver it may be difficult. The customs dont like importing seeds by mail. What I can suggest is to find a grocery store run by Taiwanese people and ask them. To my knowledge there are lots of Taiwanese in Canada. Empty heart vegetable or Ipomea aquatica is my favourite tho. Ask that as well. It is better to print the name on paper and show it to them since they dont know the names in Latin or English.After writing the article I lerned that you can harvest "A vegetable" by cutting it with scissors, not pulling it out with roots. Then the plant will give you another harvest later.

  2. A菜 is celtuce. Celtuce leaves taste exactly like A菜 and celtuce stems grow thick and become (A)菜心

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