Monday, December 3, 2018

Garlicky Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms

This is a modified version of Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe for Bok Choy with Fresh Shiitake from Every Grain of Rice. Most of the recipe is directly hers but I used the dried shiitake variation because that’s what we’ll likely have on hand plus a few other little tweaks, namely the shape of the bok choy.
I always love bok choy in a restaurant but have struggled to cook (and eat!) it at home because of the different cooking time seemingly needed for the stalk and the greens.
However, in a time when other green veg was hard to come by at the farmers’ market, I picked up some full-size bok choy and decided to give this recipe a whirl. I almost left out the mushrooms, thinking that the smaller members of the family would soundly reject them but I was completely wrong. In fact, I thought that most of my dinner would be a bust with the youngest as I had planned to cook some farro to accompany the bok choy and baked tofu and she historically has never cared for it. (My other daughter and I adore its squeaky nuttiness). But, lo, not only did both kids gobble up the bok choy and beg for more mushrooms, but the youngest also proclaimed how much she loved the farro. Just goes to show it pays to keep re-presenting things over time because tastes change.
Back to the shape of the bok choy. While I appreciate the lovely presentation of a quartered bok choy stem, it is nearly impossible to pick up and eat and little mouths struggle to manage. So this time I blanched the whole bok choy stalks (baby this time) and then shocked and drained them before cutting them into bite size chunks prior to stir frying. It’s going to be much easier to get those forkfuls into our happy mouths.
I also use less ginger than Dunlop suggests, just because that’s my personal preference. Finally, Dunlop’s recipe calls for potato flour, which surprised me in the US edition, because I know from experience that this really should be potato starch in our parlance—potato flour exists and is a whole different thing.

INGREDIENTS
6-9 dried shiitake mushrooms
Dash of Shaoxing wine
Slice of ginger
4 bunches baby bok choy or 2 bunches regular
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp potato starch mixed with 1 TBSP water
Salt
3 TBSP oil (a variety with a high smoke point—I used a bit less oil than this)
3 garlic cloves, sliced
Peeled and sliced ginger to taste (though because I keep my ginger in the freezer, I just grated some)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare the dried shiitakes: cover them in hot water and leave to soak 30 minutes. Then drain and cover with fresh water. Add a dash of Shaoxing wine and a slice or two of ginger. Simmer at least 20 minutes and just leave them there until you want them. Just slice or halve them as desired before you start your stir fry
  2. Pull the bok choy stems off the base as you would with stalks of celery and soak them well in cold water (I had a lot of grit in the bottom of my basin that I’m very glad we didn’t end up eating!). After 15 or so minutes of soaking, carefully lift the bok choy out of the basin and leave the grit behind
  3. Bring a couple of quarts of water to a boil then add a tsp of salt and a splash of oil. Add the bok choy and cook a minute or two until the leaves are wilted. Drain and rinse with cold water then drain again
  4. Cut the blanched bok choy into bite-sized pieces or the shape of your choice
  5. Stir the sugar into the potato starch/water mixture and set aside
  6. When you have all your ingredients sliced or chopped and are ready to start stir frying, heat the oil in a seasoned wok over high heat. We have an induction range so woks don’t work well; I use our 12-inch skillet or cast iron pan. Swirl the oil around then add the garlic and ginger. Cook very briefly, just until you can smell them, then add the mushrooms and bok choy. Stir them around a few times then add the starch mixture and salt to taste. Stir once again to combine and then serve