Asian vegies get standard names
Hairy melon, unlikely to be mistaken for a rose, may still smell and sell as sweet by one other name.
Predominantly Cantonese names have been adopted in a uniform national naming system for Asian vegetables.
Consumers and chefs confused by the wide array of Asian vegetables on sale can now more easily identify what they’re looking for, as major supermarkets introduce standard names for 14 common Asian varieties.
Gosford based NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) research horticulturist Dr Jenny Ekman led a project to develop the list.
“A range of languages were being used to describe the vegetables, as well as English misspellings, and confusion partly made consumers reluctant to try unfamiliar products,” she said.
Beyond the mainly Asian consumer market, the aim was to educate the wider community, who might see a new recipe in a magazine, she said.
An expanding number of growers, wholesalers and retailers are also keen to boost sales.
So one person’s daikon, a white root vegie, will become everyone’s white radish, the only English named exception because it is so widely used.
“The new system is another great example of innovative thinking and extension at work,” said Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald, launching the system in Cabramatta, home to a large Vietnamese community.
“The new naming standard now means that consumers at major supermarkets will find consistent names, consistent spelling and have greater confidence in their purchase decisions," he said.
The naming standard was developed as part of a three-year project funded by the rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Australian Vegetable Growers Federation and Horticulture Australia Limited.
To broaden the appeal of Asian vegetables (the market now generates $36 million income), NSW DPI worked with these groups to help determine the names and spellings, which included a naming committee showing photographs to 800 people involved in the vegetable industry.
While white radish will keep its place in the market lexicon, “hairy melon” sounded unattractive, so this zucchini lookalike will sell as the chi qua.
If you’re unfamilar with chi qua, previously known as fuzzy gourd, Chinese preserving melon, wax gourd, hairy gourd, or jointed gourd, a tip: the hairiest ones are best quality – fresh, young and not handled too much – but pick them up using a plastic bag as a glove because the fine hairs can irritate the skin.
Contact Dr Jenny Ekman, 4348 1942, firstname.lastname@example.org
- RON AGGS
This story appears in Agriculture Today.