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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy 清炒小白菜

A simple post, back to the basic yet essential in our everyday meals. My favorite type of green? It has got to be the Chinese mustard green (choy sum) for its sweet and crunchy natures. Some say that all greens taste the same, but I personally think that each of them holds a distinct flavor and maybe even a texture unique to themselves. To define and describe them individually is something that I perceive as hard, some taste more earthy than the others, some with a stronger aroma, some sweeter, some crunchier and some simply taste a tad of raw in nature. And so yes I do think that not only do they differ from one another in those senses, they actually ace better revealing the best they can offer when cooked and handled in certain ways that best suit them. Back at home when I was a kid, baby bok choy has always been my brother's favorite. Not sure if his liking has remained through all the years, but I have come to like baby bok choy all the same over time, especially considering that these are one of the few greens that always come nicely and neatly packed looking fresh and all appealing here in the States.

Having them stir fried with minced garlic is probably my most preferred way of cooking them. Whether to toss in any extra ingredients is all optional. My version normally includes some protein - here it is the slices of chicken breast, on other occasions they could be the shrimps, minced meat or slices of fish cakes. Protein aside, these are the very contributing factor to a plate of greens with exceptional natural sweetness which I shall always prefer over the usual convenient sodium loaded seasonings. Whether or not there are other additional ingredients included, the basic to a plate of greens cooked this way always remains the same. Hot wok with a little oil, garlic stir fried until aromatic, protein first followed by the greens, a little of water, cover and let the steam within works its way up, toss, season, thicken the gravy optionally, dish up and serve hot. Simple yet essential these greens sure are.

Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy 清炒小白菜
Serves 3-4
1lb baby bok choy
1 chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 handful sweet peas, hard ends trimmed
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
a few sprinkles of water
2 tsps corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup of water for thickening (optional)
1½ tbps cooking oil

Chicken marinade
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 to 3 dashes white pepper powder
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp corn starch

1. Have the slices of chicken breast marinated with the marinade in advance. Set aside or keep refrigerated until cooking time.
2. Trim the stems off. Separate the loose leaves out, keeping the final baby stalk in the center whole. Rinse them thoroughly under running water. It may have to be done twice or more to completely remove any impurities in between the leaves and especially getting rid of any sand particles. Drain.
3. Heat the wok with cooking oil on high heat. Once well heated, add in the minced garlic and stir fry until fragrant. If your wok if well heated to begin with, it is just a matter of seconds before the garlic will be ready so keep a close eye on it. 
4. Add in the slices of chicken breast. Stir and have each slice separated nicely. When they start changing color, add in the carrots and sweet peas. Top with the baby bok choy covering the top. 
5. Add in a few sprinkles of water. This, together from the little water the baby bok choy retain from washing should be enough to start the steaming effect from beneath the wok. Let undisturbed for a few seconds before folding the contents over and over to mix well. Cover and let cook for about a minute. 
6. Add in salt and a few dashes of white pepper powder to taste. 
7. Thicken the gravy with the corn starch solution (optional).
8. Dish out and serve hot.

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