Gourmet Veggie Mama

Tag Archives: Bok Choy

Clean-out-the-fridge stir fry

Okay, let’s be honest: All stir-frys are clean-out-the-fridge stir frys. Or maybe that’s just the way I cook them. In any case, with a move just a few days away (yikes!) it was time to use up what was left in my produce drawer. Most of it was leftover from my last share from Full Circle Farm (*sniff*), and with bok choy, kohlrabi, and Chinese broccoli, a stir fry was the obvious choice.

Delicious and nutritious.

There really isn’t a recipe for this thing. Basically, I used what I had lying around: Chinese broccoli, kohlrabi, bok choy, and leeks, plus some carrots added at the end for some extra color and variety. I didn’t have any fresh carrots, so I appropriated a couple of lightly steamed baby carrots from Nora’s freezer stash. I don’t think she minded — there’s still enough for another serving for her before we skip town, plus she got some of the leftovers for lunch the next day.

For the sauce, I threw together about 2 Tbs of soy sauce, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1 tsp rice vinegar, a couple of cloves of minced garlic, and a pinch of ginger while the veggies were cooking. As always, I made some crispy fried tofu to throw in at the end with the sauce, and topped the whole thing off with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. Served on a bed of brown rice cooked with veggie broth,* it was a great weeknight meal.

*This is a great trick to add more flavor.

While I am liking the creativity that cleaning out the pantry and refrigerator requires of me, I am pretty ready to get settled in my new kitchen, get started with my new CSA, and get back to my normal cooking life. Soon enough!

Shiitake bok choy soup

I’m always on the lookout for a quick, easy meal that doesn’t sacrifice taste. While searching for a new way to use bok choy,* I ran across a recipe that killed two birds with one stone! This shiitake bok choy soup is easy, tasty, and it took 10 minutes to put together, tops, said the hubby, who served as my recipe tester.

* Hey, stir fry is good, but I don’t necessarily want it every week.

Yum.

I had already rehydrated and chopped the mushrooms earlier in the day, and by the time I was ready to head out for an evening run, all that was left to do was chop the bok choy and scallions and put it all together. Fortunately for me, and thanks to my awesome hubby, when I got home, I had a sleeping baby in her crib, and dinner already on the table!

Shiitake Bok Choy Soup
Based on this recipe, originally from Gourmet, February 1999

1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms**
1 bunch bok choy
4 scallions
5 1/2 cups (approximately) vegetable broth
Japanese rice seasoning (optional)
12 oz soba noodles***
soy sauce

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and add the mushrooms. Turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. Allow the mushrooms to cool and then slice them. Cut the bok choy crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Cut the scallions diagonally into thin slices.

Add enough vegetable broth to the mushroom liquid to make 6 cups total. Add rice seasoning to taste (if using) and bring the mixture to a boil in a large pot. Add the bok choy, mushrooms, and noodles. Simmer the soup, uncovered, until the noodles are tender. Season with soy sauce and stir in scallions.

** I used dried shiitakes, since I wasn’t in the mood to pay a lot more for fresh, but you could substitute 1/2 lb fresh and omit the reconstitution.

*** I used Annie Chun’s FreshPak noodles, which are already cooked.

Tofu you’ll actually want to eat

I have never loved tofu. It’s bland, and I’m not crazy about the texture. Of course, its blandness is a virtue, in that it takes on pretty much any flavor, and it does serve as a good vegetarian source of protein. As for the texture issue, I have found that firm sprouted tofu is best for my particular tastes. Although (fortunately for me!) Nora loves her tofu simply cubed and coated with wheat germ, I need to do a little more prep work for my grown-up palate.

When I do eat tofu, it’s usually in a stir fry. After trying many different methods, I’ve discovered the best way to cook it so that it comes out crispy, golden brown, and perfect: pan-frying. I’m pretty sure I’ll never try another way of cooking tofu again, so I’m happy to share the recipe in hopes that I can convert some other non-tofu eaters.

I never really use a recipe for stir fry, since I just throw in whatever appropriate veggies I have around, make a quick sauce using soy sauce, vinegar, and maybe a couple of other ingredients, serve it on top of rice and call it a day. My last stir fry was comprised exclusively of vegetables from Full Circle Farm, a fact of which I am pretty proud!

I'm a locavore.

My basic method for stir fry these days is to fry the tofu using the recipe below, take it out to drain on paper towels, and then stir fry my veggies, throwing the tofu and sauce in at the end. This time, I used mizuna, kohlrabi, bok choy, leeks, carrots, and (of course) fried tofu, with a sauce of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, a touch of toasted sesame oil, and a pinch of brown sugar.

Veggie-licious.

It made a lovely, quick dinner. I love stir fry because once the veggies are chopped, it takes only a few minutes to have a meal on the table.

Sure, tofu prepared this way is not exactly health food, but a little extra oil is fine when added to such a healthy dish, in my humble opinion, especially when it improves the taste so much. Try it — you’ll like it!

Fried Tofu

1 14-oz package of firm tofu, drained
2 Tbs canola oil

Cut the tofu crosswise into 1/2-inch slices, then cut each slice in half. Arrange cut pieces on a thick layer of paper towels, and cover with another couple of layers of paper towels. To press the moisture out, place a heavy object on top* and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the tofu and cook on one side without moving until browned, 3-5 minutes. Flip with tongs and cook on the other side. Remove to new paper towels to drain. Add to your favorite stir-fry at the end of cooking, along with the sauce, and enjoy!

* An old law school textbook is ideal, if you have one lying around. My favorite choice is Contracts.

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