Tag Archives: Emperor vegetable

Vegetable fit for an Emperor

13 Dec

We went to Richmond today to do some Asian grocery shopping.  I love going to Richmond.  The grocery stores are fantastic in terms of the variety of things you can find!  The items are truly mind boggling.

The Asian diet consists of a lot of greens which are stir fried or blanched – unfortunately the variety is rather limited in Queen Victoria Market which we frequent.  So I was delighted to find 王帝菜in one of the stores!

For the uninitiated, 王帝菜 (= Emperor Vegetable)  is apparently known as Basella alba.  It used to be a rare vegetable prepared for the emperor.  Being a green leafy vegetable, it is high in vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.  It is a vegetable with a slightly mucilaginous texture.  In simple words, it’s slimy.  First off, I like slimey vegetables.  Wierd, I know.  But I like the feel somehow.  Furthermore, it’s rich in soluble fibre.  It is also a vegetable that pickles well and the pickling process seems to take away the slime.

I remember it being a fairly rare vegetable to see around even in Singapore.  According to my mother-in-law, it is expensive to boot!  But she said she grew it in her backyard like weeds and when they needed some vegetables for dinner quickly, she’d go and harvest them.  So I thought, why not try our backyard and see if we get lucky here?/

So 1 stalk went into the backyard and the rest into the pan. I must say 1 large colander full actually shrank down to 1 soup bowl full after cooking.  But it was yummy piping hot over rice!

Stir-fried Emperor Vegetables


2 thin slices of ginger

2 shallots finely sliced

1 tsp of dried shrimp in chili oil (available at Asian grocers)

1 portion of Emperor Vegetables (about 1 colander full)

1 tbs of canola oil

Salt to taste


  1. Pluck the leaves off and separate from the stems.  Put aside to dry.
  2. Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan or wok.
  3. Add the ginger and shallots and fry until fragrant
  4. Add the dried shrimp and stir quickly.
  5. Add the vegetables and fry until all the vegetables wilt.
  6. Add salt to taste
  7. Serve hot over rice.


  1. This is very much a traditional Asian way of cooking.  Often when you ask the cook “How much?”, you’ll get the answer “A pinch” or “A smidge”.  I’ve actually tried to give some measurements but can’t tell you the weight of the vegetables.
  2. Fresh vegetables should be firm with no soft spots.
  3. You may want to run the vegetables through a salad spinner to minimise splash when frying.  But I’m lazy.  The initial volume of vegetables is so large, it contains it’s own splatter.  But if it’s your first time, be warned!
  4. The chili oil can get quite irritating to the eyes and nose so the vegetables have to follow fast to keep it down.