Easy Chinese Greens, Style 1 (serves 3 - 4 as a side dish)
1lb Chinese greens (Gai Lan or Chinese Broccoli shown in these pics) 3 tablespoons peanut oil 5 garlic cloves - minced or sliced thinly into garlic chips Vietnamese fish sauce, oyster sauce or soy sauce (optional)
Salt to taste1. Mince garlic or slice into garlic chips. Depending on how I feel, I use both methods pretty interchangeably. If I'm tired, lazy or crunched for time - chips. If I'm enjoying a glass of wine while cooking and pretending to be a famous chef on my own tv show, I mince away. 2. Separate leaves from stems, particularly if the greens you are using have tough stems. Cut leaves and stems into bite size pieces. Try to keep the pieces the same size, however there's no need to be a stickler for perfection (oh, please Mum, I hope you're not reading this!) 3. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Add garlic and salt. Sauté for about a minute until fragrant. Be careful of the temperature of your wok at this point - with so little stuff in the wok, the risk of it getting too hot too quickly is high. Turn it down to medium if you feel it's too hot. This just takes a couple of tries and experience to get the hang of it. We want to make sure the garlic cooks and releases that great flavor into the oil, but we don't want it to burn. If by any chance the garlic burns, please start over. The bitterness of the burnt garlic will make the dish inedible. Once the garlic is fragrant and your kitchen smells divine, add only the stems. Give them a few stirs, then add a couple of tablespoons of water - the steam will help them cook. Cook for about three minutes, adding small amounts of water to generate some steam. 4. Add the leaves. At this point, add whatever other seasonings you like - oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce. Just a teaspoon or so of any one of these is enough. Two quick stirs to mix the seasonings through and you're done. The leaves literally cook in about 15 seconds. You'll know they're done when they turn a bright, beautiful green and are slightly wilted.
Easy Chinese Greens, Style 2 (serves 3 - 4 as a side dish)
1lb Chinese greens (Baby bok choy shown in these pics) 3 tablespoons peanut oil 8 garlic cloves - minced or sliced thinly into garlic chips Vietnamese fish sauce, oyster sauce or soy sauce (optional) Salt to taste
3. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add baby bok choy and cook until bright green - about one minute depending on size. Work in batches if you need to, to avoid over-crowding. As you're removing them from the pot, arrange them in a dish in a nice pattern. Sometimes I use a large round dish. Here they are in a square pyrex dish.
4. In a wok or sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add minced garlic and about a half teaspoon of fine salt, and turn down to medium. Stir the garlic, keeping a watchful eye for when it begins to brown. As it begins to brown, you have to really baby it - the key is medium heat and moving it around in the pan a lot. Once it turns a gorgeous nutty, brown color, add whatever seasonings you would like and remove from heat. I generally don't add any seasonings, and prefer it with just the oil, garlic and salt. It's deceptively simple, but incredibly delicious.
5. Pour the garlic, oil and seasoning mixture slowly over the baby bok choy, making sure to get some on every piece. I've taught this recipe at a number of cooking classes, and it's always a class favorite. The crispy garlic takes on a slightly nutty flavor and it's amazing how something so simple can be so good. If you're looking at this, and you're not compelled to eat it - geez, you must be from another planet!And here's the same dish made with mini bok choy, which seem to be popping up at Asian markets everywhere these days. In this version of bok choy, the stems are very tender and thin so the cooking time is cut down to almost nothing - drop these in the water, turn around to get some tongs and begin fishing them out. Happy cooking and happy, healthy eating! - Auria