Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hot and Sour Bok Choy

A couple weeks ago, when the local farmer’s market opened for the season, it was pretty easy to get excited by anything green that presented itself for my cooking pleasure. It’s even more exciting to find out that growers have become rather spectacular at producing vegetables in hot houses long before the rest of us are even getting brave enough to set foot in the frozen mess that will eventually be our gardens.

Among the earliest offerings of the green and growing were some beautiful baby bok choy. This variety, which my fabulous husband managed to score for me when I had to work during farmer’s market hours, had dark green leaves with a tinge of purple, and pretty, light green stems. (I think it’s known as “red” bok choy.) It was almost too beautiful to cut up and cook, but I’d been looking for fresh green things to test out a hot and sour sauce recipe, and showed no mercy!

This is a relatively simple side dish with a sauce made up of some basic Asian flavors. Try not to turn your nose up at the ketchup. It adds a bit of extra tang and body to the sauce. Don’t turn your nose up at any other greens besides bok choy that you might find fresh and ready to use here either. It’s the sauce that’s most important, and could probably go with anything.

Which is good, since by the time I’m getting this to you, spring is gone and summer is well settled in. While there aren’t great bunches of other vegetables available here yet, they’re coming soon and many of them could benefit from this sweet, spicy, tangy treatment. I know some local folks who just got chard in their CSA box, and, since the original recipe from which I started called for chard, that would do just fine. I love this sauce so much, I’m planning on trying it on just about veggie I can get my hands on!

Hot and Sour Bok Choy
Adapted from Clean Eating magazine

You could use other greens with this sauce recipe.

3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
2 small to medium heads bok choy, stems and leaves separated and chopped
½ cup sliced onion

1. To make the sauce, combine the rice vinegar, honey, soy sauce, ketchup, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Whisk together to combine well. Set aside.

2. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook about 3 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown, stirring frequently. Add the bok choy stems. Cook and stir 3-5 minutes more or until soft and beginning to brown. Stir in the bok choy leaves and cook until wilted.

3. Pour sauce mixture over the bok choy mixture. Cook 1-2 minutes or until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened.

Makes 2-3 side dish servings.

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