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I'm trying to find zucchini and yellow squash. Any other recommended vegetables for steaming?


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My wife has recently decided she wants to become a vegetarian.  😟  For a while I've steamed broccoli and cauliflower for her for dinner, but I'm getting tired of those awful fast.  I want to find some zucchini and squash to try next.  Problem is, everywhere I look, it's all translated as 南瓜. From what I understand this means orange pumpkin.  I suppose this is one of those things where Chinese has one word for a variety of concepts since they're all gourd vegetables?  


I've found that zucchini is called 西葫芦 but I'm not sure if the word is common use.  I've been burned by "dictionary Chinese" more than once before.  Does yellow squash have a name?  Just to be sure, I'm attaching a photo of what I'm looking for.


It also occurs to me that maybe I'm being too Western-minded and there are other, more easily available vegetables out there that are suited to steaming.  No fancy Chinese cooking, just simple steamed vegetables with butter and salt & pepper.  


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Zucchini should be 密生西葫芦 in Chinese. A quick Google image search confirms the name should be right. I don't know if you'll be able to find it near you. When I was in China I couldn't find it at the supermarket but my gf was able to purchase it on Taobao. They sell anything on taobao nowadays, even vegetables..delivery is fast and sellers usually are good at packaging, even add ice packs if needed for keeping products fresh.


I'm not familiar with yellow squash, I also found 南瓜 but as you said it's a general term for pumpkin, I don't know a specific one for yellow squash.


Another vegetable we sometimes boil (but you can steam it) at home is Florence fennel (finocchio) that should be 茴香 in Chinese. Anyway we eat the lower part (the bulb), I noticed that Chinese mostly use the leaves for cooking instead. Also that can be found on Taobao.

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Some of these vegetables have regional names, but here in Yunnan zucchini is commonly called 小瓜 xiaogua. Pretty sure it's the same as 西葫芦, as others have already mentioned, but I have never heard that name used day to day. Here's what it looks like. It's cheaper and fresher in the spring and summer, but it is still available now (I looked earlier this morning.) 




 I frequently steam it, mixed with some tomato sections and slices of a sweet red onion. Most often just use the plastic steamer basket that came with my rice cooker since that means less cleanup. My rice takes about 30 minutes to cook; and I place the steamer basket of squash into the cooker, above the rice, at about the 20 minute point. It only takes 10 minutes (or less) to get done and I don't want it to cook down into mush. Salt to taste. Wind up with steamed rice and the vegetable ready at the same time to form at least part of a meal. 


Here's an expanded version of how to do that: (You can simply leave out the meat.) https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/54552-when-its-too-hot-to-cook-小瓜蒸红椒/ 


One more good one, similar in concept: A reliable recipe for making sweet potato slices in the steamer: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/57307-honey-steamed-sweet-potato-蒸蜂蜜红薯/ 




Edited to add: I have not seen the small yellow crook-neck squash like in your picture here in Kunming. Never, even though I have looked for them repeatedly. I like those a lot when I'm back in the US. We usually call them "summer squash" in Texas, but I realize that's a generic name for several kinds of "picked-young" squash. Not sure why they are not popular here. 

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Another steamed vegetable recipe that's tasty and straight forward. This features eggplant. I make it often, especially in the warmer months. Here's how: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/56568-steamed-eggplant-with-garlic-vinaigrette-蒜蓉蒸茄子/?tab=comments#comment-437522 

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To continue with another suggestion, steamed 南瓜 is very popular here in Yunnan, as it is in Sichuan. Particularly in winter. This Chinese nangua isn't really the typical round Halloween pumpkin. It more closely resembles what is usually called "butternut squash" in the west. Looks like this:





The flesh is slightly sweet. Easy to cook. Steam it, add salt and butter. Popular right now. Inexpensive. 


The vendor cuts away the thick outer rind with a heavy-duty peeler while holding it in his hand and scrapes away the seeds. You don't need to buy a whole squash, he will sell a quarter or a third (some are pretty big; two feet long or more.) If the squash is really big, he sells pieces of it cut in cross-sectioned rings. At home, you slice it and put it in the steamer. Salt and white pepper are all that is usually added. 


Here's a basic recipe for steaming it (plus an optional fancy sauce): https://home.meishichina.com/recipe-313361.html 




I frequently use this kind of squash to make a simple rice porridge. 南瓜粥。Not quite what you are looking for, but here's the method. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/55430-chinese-comfort-food-南瓜粥-pumpkin-porridge/?tab=comments#comment-427201  


Right now there are many other varieties of squash in the markets. I saw 6 or 8 yesterday. All can be steamed. 

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