Often food lovers will one will hear stories of how someone saw a fabulous fish, pork or meat at the market and could not resist picking it up. Well the cook in me gets turned on by vegetables. So when I spotted two voluptuous heads of Pak Choy from Trikaya at Nature’s Basket the other day I just had to buy them both!
Pak Choy PACKED with health but for such a healthy vegetable, it is also one sexy looking one. With its hourglass shape formed by a jade coloured glossy bulbous stem that narrows to a delicate neck before flaring into a lush head of velvety dark green leaves, it looks just luscious!
And if you have not guessed already, I absolutely love the stuff! There are many ways to cook it but for me there is just one. It has to be braised with lots of caramelised garlic and topped with toasted Sesame. Bok Choy, done like this offers a perfect side dish to any main Chinese meal but I don’t like being distracted from mine, so I just make two HUGE portions for myself, pile it onto steaming rice and dig in after spiking it with a little chilli oil or with a little roasted chilli past on the side.
Steaming hot salty, garlic scented Pak choy, with its tender crunchy stems and velvetty leaves, spiked with chilli oil and rounded of with the nutty toasted sesame oil with toasted sesame and chilli flakes adding color and flavou... who said healthy can't be sexy....?
Braised Pak/Bok Choy (Serves 2 or 1 GREEDY Pak Choy llover! Time 15 mins)
2 large heads or 4 baby heads bok choy,
1/2 tsp oil
10-12 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
½ cup stock or water and a stock cube
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp chilli oil
1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
Chilli flakes to sprinkle over
Separate out the leaves of the Pak Choy and wash well to remove any grit. Slice down the middle and cut or break the stems away from the leaves. Slice the stems up to your preference. Break leaves to bit size. Now, traditionally you would be asked to heat a wok over a high heat but I prefer to use a large flat deep saucepan. The thing is in this case you want a large flat hot surface, so that there is maximum contact between said surface and ingredient to be cooked. The greens have to get scorched within moments of hitting the hot surface before they let off their inherent moisture and begin to steam cook and soften and that is easier done on a large flat pan than a wok. Once pan is hot add the garlic and stir fry for about 1-2 minutes until the garlic is golden and well on its way to browning at the edges. Add the Pak Choy stems in the middle of the pan and spread them out for maximum contact. A moment later, spread the leaves out as well, using your spatula to press them down onto the hot pan. There will be a sizzle, and about a moment later the smell of cooking spinach will rise as the leaves let of their moisture. The window of opportunity to scorch your Pak Choy is that small. Stir fry for 1 minute. Add the Soy sauce to the pan and stir fry a little. Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan of the caramelised flavours of the garlic and greens, add ½ cup water and a cube of stock or homemade stock, allow to simmer a little. The leaves will be a glossy silky dark forest green by now. You have the option of thickening with some cornstarch but I don’t think I need that here. Transfer into a bowl by itself or over steamed rice, drizzle with the oils and toasted Sesame, sprinkle over the chilli flakes and dig in!