09 October 2008

Namesake Dishes, Part 1: Bok Choy & Friends

Ahhh, the serene calm of the kitchenscape. This is the kind of thing I signed up for: a true sense of freedom and release, the calm strength of creating something from the barest of raw materials. Like a freshly harvested box of corn starch, or a plastic tub of tofu, fresh off the vine. Er......

There, that's more like it.

Anyway, on the menu a few nights ago was a big question mark. Mel had been putting a lot of effort in the kitchen (and into this blog) for the past couple of days, so it was my turn to step up to the plate. I felt like a serious foodie that day. Since I had class and work all day, I spent all my free time thinking up a recipe for later that night. In the end I came up with this:

Bok Choy & Friends Stir-Fry

You'll need:
2 medium-sized heads of bok choy
1 head of napa cabbage
1 brown onion (chopped)
1 brick o'tofu (14 oz or so) (cut into cubic inch pieces)
4 sprigs of green onion (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped/minced)
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp kecap manis (sweet soy)
2 tsp cornstarch
1/3 c. water
1 tbsp vegetable oil

(Disclaimer: these amounts were experimental, so don't be afraid to make little changes!)

-First off, combine the soy, sweet soy, oyster sauce, and the chopped garlic and green onions into a medium sized bowl. Stir them around a bit. Add the tofu to the bowl, then stir around again, making sure the get each piece of the tofu a turn in the sauce bath.

-Don't forget to start cooking the rice! For this dish I like to use brown rice because it soaks up the flavors from the sauce pretty well.

-At this point, I'd advise you to chop everything else. That way, you don't have to worry about how fast you'll have to go and you give the tofu a chance to have a first class soak.

-Chop the bok choy perpendicular to the grain of the stalk. I like to keep the pieces to about 1 inch in width. Separate the leafy bits from the stalky bits. I used only the leafy bits from the napa cabbage, and put them together with the bok choy leaves.

-Heat the vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Make sure the pan is hot, but not smoking.

-Toss the onions in for a little while to get them started, then after about a minute or two, put in the bok choy stalks. Toss them a little to spread the oil, but then don't touch them again for about 2 minutes.

-While waiting for the bok choy, mix the cornstarch and water in a separate cup.

-Add the leafy bits to the skillet and stir-fry for 1 minute or until you notice the leaves start to wilt.

-Add the tofu/sauce mixture and the water/cornstarch mixture and continue to stir-fry. (Some recipes call for some butter here, to add richness. Mine tasted good both with and without it, but if you do decide to add some, I'd say you don't need much more than 1/2 tbsp)

-Stir-fry for 2-4 minutes more, or until leafy bits are adequately wilted.

In the end, our tummies full of goodness and home cooking, we decided to try and cook more with kecap manis (a sweet soy sauce that is used a lot in traditional Indonesian cooking). The flavor of it adds a certain kick to dishes and is the only sweet thing I know that exclusively tastes good with savory foods. For now, though, our venture into the world of stir-fry left us very satisfied.


1 comment:

MomannP said...

WOW...this one sounds yummy...great job, Brandon!! I really enjoy reading your commentary, as well...very colorful.