Celery - or Apium graveolens to use its scientific name - is something we usually think of as a salad food. However, the original wild celery had a number of more interesting uses, such as being made into garlands to be worn at funerals, or used as a pot-herb. The word celery comes from the Greek "selinon," which is how it is referred to in The Odyssey of Homer.
According to The Oxford Companion to Food, the Chinese have been using celery
since the 5th century AD. Chinese celery is quite different from regular celery, which is
European in origin. (Chinese celery originated in a form of wild celery found in
Asia). As the photographs below illustrate, the stalks are much thinner (they are also
hollow), and the color can range from white to dark green. Along with a different
appearance, Chinese celery has a much stronger flavor. It is seldom, if ever, eaten raw,
but is a popular addition to soups and stir-fries. Just chop up the entire plant and toss
it in with other vegetables.
Storage and Use: Chinese celery can be stored along with regular celery in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator, where it will keep for several days. Rinse before using.
Of course, regular celery can also be used in Chinese cooking. Be sure to trim off the leaves and the stem ends. Cut the celery on a slight diagonal, to the thickness called for in the recipe.
Written by Rhonda Parkinson, copyright 2000.
Recipe: Stir Fry Chinese Celery
Photographs of Chinese celery© copyright 2007 by Rhonda Parkinson