BOK CHOY AND PEA SALAD
Bok choy (Chinese white cabbage) is a staple ingredient in Asian dishes. The greens have a spinach-like taste with a very mild bitterness.
You purchase bok choy in two sizes, baby and large mature stalks that’ll need to be chopped into smaller pieces. Although the leaves can be eaten raw and tossed into fresh salads, there are improved taste benefits when cooking the entire vegetable.
Look for bok choy with bright green leaves with no wilting. The stalks should be very firm and off-white in color (or pale yellow depending on variety) with no brown spots. You store them inside a closed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days. Wait to wash until you’re ready to cook.
Large bok choy:
Wash and thoroughly dry the leaves and stems. Start by cutting away the leafy green sections and stack them on top of each other. Then cut crosswise into thin strips.
Cut the stalks into small pieces, about ½ to 1-inch in size while discarding the root portion about 1-inch from the bottom. They can now be tossed into soups, stews, or a stir-fry at the end of cooking.
Baby bok choy:
Can be eaten whole or cut into smaller portions. Add them to a large bowl of cold water and plunge a few times to remove any excess dirt or rinse under running water.
Shake off excess moisture and thoroughly dry the exteriors. If cutting bok choy in half after washing, make sure the inside is dry too, especially if sauteing or stir-frying. This is great for salads, braises or stews.
How to cook bok choy:
When cooking it is important to stop cooking when the stalks are just tender, about 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the method and size of the vegetable.
Use a large wok or nonstick skillet to brown and tenderize the greens. Cut the vegetables down the center to create two halves, to keep intact after cooking.
Cook the cut sections for a few minutes in hot oil in a large skillet without moving, this deepens the color on the surface. Once the color appears, flip over and cook the other side. The greens can now be stir-fried with a sauce to infuse more flavor.
Adding in aromatics and sauces like fresh ginger, minced garlic, and sliced green onions provide instant pungency and earthiness. Cook these in vegetable oil until fragrant as they are very delicate. Make sure the garlic does not burn.
A sauce can be added at the very end of cooking. A combination of soy sauce, vegetable broth, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and chili flakes. When stir-fried with seared bok choy it creates delicious glazed halves.
NB…..Don’t move the bok choy!
To ensure a deep golden sear on the surface, it’s important to place the cut side down first. Do not be tempted to lift or move the vegetable around in the pan. Give it a few minutes before flipping. The combination of hot oil, high heat and direct contact with the cooking surface will develop a stunning light char with toasted nutty notes.
BOK CHOY AND PEA SALAD:
- 4 baby bok Choy, cleaned and halved as explained above
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 – 2 cleaned and finely chopped garlic cloves
- 1 cm cleaned and finely chopped fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (Vodka can be used)
- 1 tablespoon smoked chilli flakes
Mix in a bowl and keep aside.
Fry halved bok choy on cut side in a non stick pan in olive oil till seared (4 – 5 min).
Turn and fry on other side.
Add frozen peas and fry for ± 2 minutes.
Add sauce and stir-fry 2 – 3 minutes.
Recipe: Amanda Conradie
Photo: Elize de Kock