Bok choy burst onto the scene some time in the late 90′s or early naughts. It was soon found in even the whitest-of-bread suburban supermarkets. ”Step aside, snow peas!” It said, “There’s a new sherriff in town!” Its leafy, a bit cabbage-like, and Asian as a muthafucka. Shit got all Asian-inspired up in here. Bitches bought woks! They wondered aloud whether oyster sauce was made with actual oysters. They thought it was Thai, even though it was Chinese. They said,”Yum, is this bok choy? I loooooove bok choy!” at dinner parties and asked whether it was okay to say Oriental. ”Not okay,” they were told, “people aren’t rugs.”
But the fascination with Asian greens ended there. Instead folks started paying six dollars for little bowls of soybeans, which they called endamame, so it seemed fancy.
Any decent Asian market carries upwards of twenty different types of Asian greens, all with their own unique appeal, and all terribly good for you. Be brave, buy some. Break out the wok.
Choy sum is a recent favorite of mine. It looks like a tiny collard green. It is a bit more delicate, and has a slightly sweeter taste. The following recipe is for a very simple, traditional stir fry. However, I suggest thinking of ways to incorporate choy sum into other dishes. It could certainly be substituted for hearty, leafy greens, such as kale or collards.
Choy Sum in Oyster Sauce
- 2 tbs peanut oil
- scallion, thinly sliced
- 2 lbs. Choy Sum, tough outer leaves and stem bottoms removed
- knob of ginger, smashed
- tbs baking soda
- 2 tbs oyster sauce
- 2 tbs vegetable stock
- tsp dark soy sauce (try to use Chinese, not Japanese soy sauce), or tamari
- tsp sugar
- white pepper
- small saucepan
- large pot
- large mixing bowl
- small mixing bowl
- wok, or cast iron skillet
1) Make scallion oil. In a small saucepan bring 2 tablespoons of peanut oil to a boil, add sliced scallions and reduce heat to medium. Allow scallions to cook for ten minutes, strain oil, and reserve.
2) Blanch the greens. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the knob of ginger, a tbs of salt, and a tbs of baking soda. Prepare an ice bath in the large mixing bowl. When the water is at a rapid boil add the greens. As soon as the water returns to a boil, transfer the greens to an ice bath. Once the greens have cooled, remove them from the ice bath and press out as much water as possible.
3) Make the Sauce. In a small bowl mix together the oyster sauce, stock, soy sauce, sugar, a bit of salt and white pepper.
4) Stir fry the vegetables. Place a wok, or cast iron over high heat. When very hot add the sauce. when the sauce begins to bubble, add the scallion oil and stir. Add the greens and stir fry for about two minutes. Serve.