So I'm building a list I can bring to Chinatown, since my Mandarin is probably not up to ordering this stuff (I know the Cantonese names, but they don't always translate very well). Also, I'm illiterate.
|苦瓜||ku2 gua4||bitter melon||Momordica charantia|
|芋头||yu3 tou1||taro||Colocasia esculenta|
|空心菜||kong4 xin4 cai3||water spinach||Ipomoae aquatica|
|白萝卜||bai1 luo1 bo1||daikon||Raphanus sativus|
|牛舌頭||niu2 she1 tou1||cow tongue||I don't know if the Chinese is right - in Cantonese it's just "cow tongue" (translated directly)|
|牛筋||niu2 jin4||beef tendon|
|藕||ou2||lotus root||rhizome part of Nelumbo nucifera (Indian national flower)|
|韭菜||jiu2 cai3||garlic/Chinese chives||Allium ramosum|
|霸王花||ba3 wang1 hua4||Hylocereus undatus flower||(Thanks Aunty!) Translates to "Tyrant flower" (approximately). Cantonese: ba wong fa. These come dried in packages and need to be rehydrated before cooking (in soup).|
|椶子||zong3 zi2||glutinous rice dumpling||Extremely delicious - how often do you get to eat tetrahedral food?|
I didn't want to put this in my shopping list, but something else I remembered from childhood (and will not eat now) is hair moss (Chinese: 发菜, pinyin: fa3 cai3, Cantonese: fat choy). Overharvesting it is bad for the environment, and apparently it contains a toxic amino acid.
If anyone has any other suggestions, please supply the Chinese and the pinyin. I would also love it if you would tell me how to cook it. :) I'd also love to add sausage to this list, but I only know the Cantonese for it. Of course, sausage is easily recognizable so I can get to it even without the name written out in Chinese.
Edit: finally got the pinyin and characters for all the items on my list. Thanks a ton to murphyzlaw and my aunt!