The Joys of Bok Choy

Barbara got me started on this kick a few weeks ago.  She had made a Turmeric-Ginger Dumpling Soup recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine.  It featured Bok Choy and is made with frozen vegetable dumplings (ours are from Trader Joe’s).  The dish was easy, delicious and quick, and it was just as good or better as leftovers the second day.

A few days later she invented an Asian-style vegetarian dish with some farm-fresh vegetables we had, using a perfectly-poached egg for protein and a sauce made with hoisin, shoyu, ginger, and black vinegar for depth of flavor.  It was terrific.

Now that I have more experience cooking bok choy, I was inspired to try some dishes of my own.  It also gave me a few opportunities to use a pot I adore — a wok bought in San Francisco’s Chinatown district over 40 years ago.  Over the years it has become as nonstick as anything Barbara uses, but it heats VERY quickly and sears better than any coated pan.

On different days I made two variations — each with onions and bok choy, sesame seeds and that Asian sauce combo (above).  One time I included sliced mushrooms (Shiitake and Cremini) plus chopped scallions.  Both were enjoyable.

Some brief notes on technique:

  • I like to cut an onion vertically (in 6 or 8 sections, depending on its size) for cooking in a hot wok, especially when making a dish with vertically-oriented bok choy
  • I also cut the bok choy vertically into 4 pieces (6 when it is larger).  Then I cut off the tops and separate them, so they go in last, because they cook quicker than the thicker base and rib parts.
  • Good safflower or peanut oil is essential; olive oil is also an option.  Don’t be skimpy; the oil is critical to caramelization and for even cooking.
  • If adding mushrooms, slice and cook those first, then remove from wok and add back in later to the whole dish.
  • Cook in stages.  First, the onion segments until browned some, then add the bok choy.
  • Add sesame seeds and stir-fry a little.
  • Now add the mushrooms, scallions or other ingredients.
  • Finally, add the sauce and stir until all is well-coated.
  • Can be served with or without, rice or noodles, and if noodles, then flour or beans

The sauce is rich in flavor, so I love a good red wine with these dishes.  For the version that had the mushrooms, I chose a California wine from Bryan Harrington of Harrington Wines, a 2015 Mourvedre.  It was spectacularly good.  In fact, so good, I was inspired to call Bryan and thank him.  When I looked up the number, I was very sad to learn that they closed up the business late last year.  A real loss.  Very good wines, made by a thoughtful, creative, and helpful entrepreneur.  Good luck with your next ventures, Bryan!


This entry was posted in Almost-Vegan, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

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