Friday, October 29, 2010

Asian Greens--Bok Choy and Tokyo Bekana

This final week of the 2010 CSA Season was once again full of asian greens. I meant to post these recipes last week, but time just seem to melt away. Hopefully you still have plenty of the asian green offerings still stored in your fridge, otherwise I believe both the bok choy and the tokyo bekana will be part of next week's extended CSA share (pick up on TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY 1pm until dark) as long as we do not get a freeze this weekend.

When I first graduated from college I worked at the Stroud Water Research Center with a Chinese scientist who was always telling me about this delicious mild asian green--something like a cross between cabbage and romaine lettuce. I was so happy when the Johnny Seed Catalog finally started offering the green he was talking about, known as Tokyo Bekana. Tokyo Bekana is basically the lose leaf version of Napa/Chinese cabbage. It has a wonderful sweet and mild taste and crisp texture. I made a delicious chicken salad last weekend with chiffonade cut tokyo bekana, a curry-lime dressing, finely chopped apple, and dried cranberries (from trader joes)--it was delicious.

Bok Choy is an asian green you might be more familiar with, but still in need of recipe ideas. I have included three recipes all from Barbara Kafka's fantastic recipe book Vegetable Love:

Radiant Bok Choy
This is one of my proudest recipes, with a minimum of ingredients and a maximum of flavor and beauty. The white part of the bok choy turns the brilliant color of Asian mendicants' robes and the green stays intensely emerald.

The vegetable does very well on its own with rice. As a vegetarian dish, it can have soaked dried shittake, stemmed and cut into strips, added during the final six minutes of cooking. It can a succulent sauce and side dish for chicken or fish--or shreds of either can be added for the final six minutes of cooking time.

1 tablespoon of canola oil
2 tablespoons of turmeric
2 pounds of bok choy (about 4 pieces), halved lengthwise
1 can of coconut milk, plus enough water to make 3 cups liquid
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or 4 lime wedges

In an 8- or 9-inch saucepan, heat the oil over low heat. Stir in the turmeric and salt and cook for about 1 minute. Add the pieces of bok choy, laying them on their sides cramming them in so as to make them compact as possible.

Pour in the coconut-water mixture, cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 6 minutes. The bok choy should sink into the sauce and cook evenly. If some of bok choy is not covered with liquid, turn the pieces. Re-cover and cook for 6 more minutes.

Stir in the lime juice, if using. Or serve hot, accompanied with lime wedges, if desired. This is also good tepid. Serves 4 as a side dish.

Ginger and Garlic Baby Bok Choy
This is a perfect side dish with fish, or serve on a mixed vegetable platter that has no other vegetables using vinegar. It is good hot or cold.

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound baby bok choy (about 35; 5 cups)
2 quarter-size slices peeled fresh ginger, cut into matchstick pieces (about 2 tablespoons)
1 clove garlic, smashed, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

In a 10-inch frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until very hot. Add the bok choy, ginger and garlic. Cook, tossing regularly with two wooden spoons, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the leaves are completely wilted but the whites are still slightly crunchy. Keep the heat between medium and medium-high so that the pan is sizzling but the oil is not sputtering.

Add the vinager and salt. Cook for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and serve. Makes 2 cups.

In this recipe, also from Vegetable Love you can replace the napa cabbage with the tokyo bekana. Also the soy-sesame dressing can be replaced with any good Asian dressing--something with ginger would be delicious.

Shredded Napa Salad
Make this in the winter when the selection of other greens is limited. It has a lightly Asian flavor and is very pretty. It's as good as a side dish as it is a first course. It goes very well with fish dishes.

1 ounce dried shittake mushrooms (about 5 medium mushrooms)
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 pound napa cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
2 scallions, trimmed and sliced (about 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup Soy-Sesame Vinaigrette
1 ounce red or daikon radish, trimmed and cut into 1/8-inch slices (about 1/4 cup)

Combine the mushrooms, vinegar, hot pepper sauce, 1/2 cup of water and black pepper in a 2 1/2-quart souffle dish or casserole with a tightly fitted lid. Cover tight with microwave plastic wrap or the lid. Cook at 100% for 5 minutes. If using plastic wrap, prick to release the steam.

Remove from the oven and uncover. Allow to stand until cool enough to handle. Using scissors, remove the mushroom stems and discard. Cut the mushrooms into 1/2-inch strips.

In a large serving bowl, combine the mushrooms with the cabbage, scallions and the dressing. Toss to coat, and scatter the radish slices over. Serves 8.

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