~Bok Choy w/Ginger, Garlic, Mushrooms & Noodles~
Eat your vegetables. No problem. I've always loved vegetables. Granted, I typically like some form of protein with or in my veggies, but, every once in a while, an all-veg meal is AOK with me. This is one of them, and, it's one of the quickest, easiest meals you will ever make. Cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable, is one I grew up eating, but, until I was thirty-something, it came to my table via round green or red heads. Thanks to publications like Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Gourmet magazine, I began experimenting with recipes for Chinese bok choy (an elongated green and white "non-heading" cabbage), in the 1980's, mostly in quick stir-fries.
A bit about cruciferous (krew-SIH-fer-uhs) vegetables: A group of high-fiber vegetables containing antioxidants that research claims may provide protection against certain cancers. Also rich in numerous vitamins and minerals, they include: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, collard and mustard greens, kale, rutabagas and turnips.
A bit about bok choy: When it comes to vegetables, the Chinese have always been a step ahead of us Westerners. They've been eating 3-5 servings a day for centuries without coaxing or advice from medical professionals. Bok choy, a once hard-for-me-to-find ingredient is now available everywhere. Lightly-seasoned with garlic and a bit of soy sauce, I love its naturally sweet, slightly peppery taste when cooked. If it's a large head of bok choy you've got, give the leaves a good rinse in cold water and drain them thoroughly (a salad spinner works great), then, trim the woody stem ends off and diagonally slice the stalks and leaves. If it's small heads of baby bok choy you bought, slice them in half lengthwise, rinse, and drain. Cook either of them as directed.
A bit about Chinese Egg noodles: The Chinese have an almost overwhelming variety of noodles to choose from. Fresh Chinese egg noodles (the four most common being thin and wide wonton noodles, and, Hong-Kong-style chow mein noodles and lo mein noodles), found in all Asian markets (and larger grocery stores) are made with wheat flour and eggs and are yellow in color (which is often attributed to the addition of yellow dye). Fresh egg noodles are also cooked to the point of only needing to be briefly reheated in a pot of simmering water or broth, and/or, tossed into a stir-fry at the end of the cooking process. If kept sealed, they keep in the refrigerator about a week, and, once opened, for best results, should be used within 24 hours.
Here are the top three complaints I routinely receive about stir-fry recipes:
1) They're not as quick as they're talked-up to be. 2) Yea, they cook in less than 5 minutes, but it takes an hour do the chopping. 3) All that work and it's only enough food to feed 1 or 2 people. My E-Z stir-fry feeds 4-6:
1 large head bok choy, cut into 1" chiffonade (strips), rinsed and run trough a salad spinner, about 10 cups
2 dozen smallish shiitake or crimini mushroom caps, or a combination of both
1/4 cup thinly-sliced garlic cloves (1 ounce/about 3 large cloves)
1/4 cup thinly-sliced ginger (1 ounce/about a 2 1/2" piece)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound fresh Chinese egg noodles
3/4 cup chicken or veggie broth
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup Oyster-flavored sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons chicken stock
Note: This all-purpose sauce is great for many stir-fried veggies.
~ Step 2. Place the oil in a 12" wok or stir-fry-type pan.
~Step 3. Over medium-high heat. Give the pan a couple of tilts to swirl the oil around to coat the bottom and lower sides of the pan. Add the garlic, ginger and green onions and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 45-60 seconds. Add the mushroom caps and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the sauce, stir thoroughly and return to a simmer.
~Step 4. Add and stir in the bok choy, cover and cook over medium heat (lower the heat from medium-high) for 3 minutes. Uncover and stir in the cornstarch/water mixture. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the simmering sauce thickens slightly, 1-2 minutes. Turn heat off.
~ Step 5. Go ahead, taste the sauce, it's delicious. Poke a small hole or two in the package of Chinese egg noodles with the tip of a knife and cook them on high or express setting of microwave for 1 minute. Portion the hot noodles into four-six bowls. Using a large slotted spoon portion the bok choy mixture over noodles, then drizzle the sauce in the pan equally over and amongst all servings.
Get out the chopsticks & serve THIS delish veggie & noodle dish:
No fresh egg noodles in your town? Cook 4-5, 3-ounces packages of pantry-staple ramen noodles (sans the seasoning packets) in water for 3 minutes. Drain well and toss them hot, right into the bok choy mixture!
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 12" wok or stir-fry-type pan w/lid, preferably nonstick; large slotted spoon
Cook's Note: For another one of my chopsticks (or fork) Asian-noodle-meals, also made with fresh Chinese egg noodles and full of vegetables and chicken too, my recipe ~ Chinese Chicken Chow Mein a la Melanie ~, can be found in Categories 3, 13 or 26.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos Courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)