Shanghai greens

If you read my dining review last week, you already know that one of the best things I ate in China were simple stir-fried greens. Last night, I decided to try and recreate them at home. More on that in a minute.

That plate above was my favorite one of the trip. We ate those greens at a hot pot restaurant in Shanghai. The sauce was spiked with vinegar and Chinese rice wine and those strips of ginger on top exploded with spice but still managed not to overwhelm the gentle flavor of the greens. Simply fantastic.

Here’s another plate of greens at yet another Shanghai restaurant. This was during a late dinner in the French Concession district. The sauce this time was thicker and less vinegary, but still tasty.

The greens also popped up when we ate Muslim noodles. My plate of veggie-topped noodles came cold with a vinagery, sweet sauce and lots of garlic.

Here’s a sampling of the many, many greens we saw in a traditional Chinese grocery store. This store is in a river town outside of Shanghai, where we went on a day trip.

Last Sunday I spotted some bok choy at the Aksarben farmer’s market and snagged a couple bunches. I searched out a recipe on epicurious that had the flavor profile I remembered and tinkered with it in my own kitchen.

The greens turned out great. I’ll be making them a lot this summer and eating them with rice for a light summery dinner.

Stir-Fried Shanghai Bok Choy with Ginger
adapted from Gourmet magazine

Baby bok choy is about 5 to 7 inches long and has a delicate, sweet flavor. Most common is the Shanghai variety, which is pale green and has spoon-shaped stems.

1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled
3/4 lb Shanghai bok choy or other baby bok choy (5 to 8 heads)
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Cut half of ginger into very fine matchsticks (less than 1/8 inch thick; about 1 tablespoon) and reserve. Grate remaining ginger and squeeze pulp with your fingers to yield 1 teaspoon liquid, then discard pulp.

Remove any bruised or withered outer leaves from bok choy. Trim 1/8 inch from bottom of each bok choy, then cut each head into quarters. Wash bok choy in several changes of cold water and dry in a colander or salad spinner until dry to the touch.

Whisk together ginger juice, vegetable broth, rice wine, soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, salt, and sugar in a small bowl until cornstarch is dissolved.

Heat wok or skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Pour half of the sesame oil down side of pan, then swirl oil. Add ginger matchsticks and stir-fry 5 seconds. Add bok choy and stir-fry until leaves are bright green and just limp, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir broth mixture, then pour into wok and stir-fry until vegetables are crisp-tender and sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and drizzle with remaining sesame oil, then stir to coat.

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