Far From Uninspired
October 1, 2008
This recipe is a revelation—in texture, flavor, simplicity, beauty and, most of all, speed. And speed in the kitchen is something I’m prizing quite a bit since I started my job. (I know, I know. All of you out there who had full-time jobs or kids or, I don’t know, responsibilities before, um, last Monday, are probably rolling your eyes and possibly even uttering a “duh.” But I’m catching on. Bear with me.) And this recipe is lightning quick—the sort that doesn’t merely suggest a mise en place, but rather demands it.
I especially value speed, though, when it doesn’t come at the expense of a dumbed down, flavorless, uninspired end result. And, oh, that is just not the case here. Unless you consider a glistening, tangled heap of emerald green baby bok choy (cutest vegetable ever?), greens wilted and bulbs still almost crunchy to be “uninspired.” I, for one, do not. Especially when said tangled heap is enveloped in a unctuous slip of garlicky sauce, which tastes like the dregs at the bottom of your very, very favorite Chinese takeout boxes—but which, in reality, you whipped up in your very own kitchen: no take out menus, no hunger-induced over-ordering, no delivery charge.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
This recipe could easily serve as a meal in itself, served with some thinly sliced protein, quickly stir fried in a slick of sesame oil. Round it out with some brown rice and your favorite weeknight television show and call it a Wednesday night. Er, at least that’s what my Wednesday nights are looking like these days—and gloriously so. Also, stick the leftovers in the fridge and call it a delicious, cool Thursday lunch. I speak from experience.
1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic (about 8 cloves)
2 lb baby or Shanghai bok choy, halved lengthwise
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
Stir together broth, soy sauce and cornstarch, until cornstarch has dissolved.
Heat wok or large skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly. Pour peanut or vegetable oil down side of wok, then swirl oil, tilting wok to coat side. Add garlic and stir-fry until pale golden, 5 to 10 seconds. Add half of bok choy and stir-fry until leaves wilt, about 2 minutes, then add remaining bok choy and stir-fry until all leaves are bright green and limp, 2 to 3 minutes total. Stir broth mixture, then pour into wok and stir-fry 15 seconds. Cover with lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in sesame oil, then transfer to a serving dish.