Stirfried Greens

Lots of greens are in season just now – kale, chard, collards, spinach. Here’s a quick stirfry recipe for just about any variety of sturdier greens. For the more tender types (spinach, water spinach, amaranth) check out the Recipes page for specific cooking instructions.

ingredients:

  • 1 bunch greens – any of the sturdier varieties mentioned above
  • 1 T oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • salt to taste

method:

  1. Bring about 2″ of water to a boil.
  2. While this water comes to a boil, soak the greens in cool water, then remove the greens, drain the water, and repeat.
  3. Chop the greens coarsely, then soak one more time – there should be no grit on the bottom of the bowl or sink.
  4. Blanch and shock the greens – they should be bright green and crisp-tender – then gently squeeze out as much water as possible.
  5. Heat a wok over medium-high, then add the oil, just until it shimmers.
  6. Explode the garlic until fragrant – do not let it brown – then add the greens and stirfry just until tender.
  7. Season to taste and serve.

variation:

If you prefer to use less water and spend more time chopping, you can skip the blanch and shock step: separate the leaves from the stems and chop each separately in step 3.  After exploding the garlic, add the stem pieces, stirfrying until bright green, then add the leaves, stirfrying until crisp-tender. Season and serve.

Broccoli Stem Stirfry

If you tend to have leftover broccoli stems, don’t toss them! We tend to use the crowns down to the main stem for a green vegetable with western meals, but that leaves us with quite a lot of long stems. These can be cut into “matchsticks” and stirfried into a delicious vegetable (or meat) dish.

ingredients:

  • 3-4 broccoli stems
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • salt, to taste

method:

  1. Peel the broccoli stems and  cut into 1/8 x 1/8 x 1.5″ matchsticks.
  2. Cut the bell pepper into 1/4″ dice.
  3. Heat the wok over medium-high heat, then add the oil just until it shimmers.
  4. Add the garlic and explode just until fragrant.
  5. Add the broccoli and red pepper and stirfry just until crisp-tender, approximately 2-3 m.
  6. Season to taste, then serve.

variation:

  • If you want to use some meat in this dish, a bit of diced bacon or ham cut into strips makes a nice addition. If you use bacon, you should cook the bacon first, then remove it to drain some of the fat. You can either use the bacon fat to stirfry the vegetables or dump it out and use oil. If you use ham, add it at the very end of the cooking process, just to heat it through. In either case, you’ll need to use less salt.

Stirfried Ham & Tofu with Chinese Chives

We’ve gotten some lovely ham from our local meat supplier, Back Forty Acres, (looking forward to the bounty of the 1/2 hog that’s on its way this month!) and we’ve started to use it more and more for stirfrying.

Chinese (or garlic) chives, jiucai in Mandarin, are available in Asian markets and at farmers’ markets that have vendors of Asian produce. The look like a long, flattened version of our chives. When fully grown they are not hollow at the center and sometimes have buds at the tips (which you can just add to the stirfry). If you can’t find them, you can substitute the more commonly found chives (reduce the cooking time) or scallions cut into thin 2″ long strips. The flavor won’t be identical, but it will be tasty all the same.

Pressed beancurd, called doufu gan (sort of translates into “tofu jerky!”) is literally tofu that has been pressed to squeeze out excess moisture. The result is a firmer texture that some people compare to meat, although the flavor is of course different. Pressed tofu comes in a variety of flavors – the most common one for this dish is five-spice, which has a dark, slightly smoky exterior and an off-white center. You can easily substitute baked tofu, now readily available in most conventional markets, for this ingredient. For this dish, try to find a block that is unflavored and relatively moist – the ham is the dominant flavor ingredient here.

Leftovers? This stirfry is excellent mixed into Fried Rice.

ingredients:

  • 3 oz smoked ham, cut into 1/2″ cubes or matchsticks
  • 3 squares pressed beancurd or baked tofu (unflavored)
  • 4 oz garlic chives (or use 2 oz chives or 4 scallions as mentioned above)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 x 1.5″ strips
  • 1 T oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste

method:

  1. Rinse the beancurd under hot water to remove some of the oil, then pat dry.
  2. Slice the beancurd 1/8″ thick, then cut the slices into shreds approximately 1.5″ long.
  3. Wash the chives well and cut into 1.5″ lengths – you can keep the buds intact if there are any.
  4. Heat the oil in the wok just  until it shimmers.
  5. Add the tofu and stirfry to coat with the oil and heat through.
  6. Add the chives and red pepper strips and stirfry gently until the vegetable just wilts but is still bright green.
  7. Add the ham and stirfry to heat through.
  8. Adjust seasoning, then slide onto the serving plate.

Scrambled Eggs & Fish

Quick and healthy – lots of lean protein! Use the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch site to find information on how to purchase the most sustainably caught or raised small-flake mild white fish available (bass, snapper, tilapia, etc. – avoid the large-flake, oily fish such as cod).

I posted this recipe earlier (see Stirfried Fish with Eggs), but have been working on it since and have tweaked it a bit for better results.

ingredients:

  • 4 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
  • 2 tsp Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, grated and juiced
  • 1 tsp cornstarch (rice, potato, tapioca flour will also work)
  • 4 oz white fish fillet, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 T oil
  • 4 scallions, chopped

method:

  1.  Separate the eggs, yolks into 1 bowl, 3 whites into another, 1 white into a third.
  2. Whisk 1/2 of the wine and 1/2 of the salt into the egg yolks.
  3. Whisk 1/2 of the wine and 1/2 of the salt into the 3 egg whites.
  4. Whisk the ginger juice and cornstarch into the 1 egg white, then add the fish pieces and marinate 10-15 m. When ready to cook, drain off as much of the marinade as possible.
  5. Heat a wok over medium high heat, then add 1 T oil and heat just until it shimmers.
  6. Stirfry the fish just until cooked through 1-3 m, then remove to a plate.
  7. Heat 1 T oil, stirfry the egg whites quickly, then remove to the same plate.
  8. Heat 1 T oil, stirfry the egg yolks, then remove to the same plate.
  9. Return everything to the wok for a quick stir, add the scallion, adjust the seasoning and serve.

variation:

To make this dish even more quickly, simply separate out 1 egg white for the fish marinade. Scramble the remaining yolk and eggs together with the entire amount of salt and wine. Stirfry the fish as in steps 5-6, then stirfry the eggs together before returning the fish to the wok.

Stirfried Broccoli with Crab

We were lucky enough to be given the gift of some delicious crab legs – thanks, Oran! – something we rarely buy but greatly enjoy. I often hesitate to buy crab for reasons of sustainability, but if you visit Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch, you will find that there are some good alternatives.

Because we started with uncooked legs, I give instructions for cooking them, but you can start with any cooked crab meat – better if it’s leg or lump, not all stringy, though.

ingredients:

  • 1 lb king crab legs
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets, stems reserved for another dish
  • 2 T oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste (you may not need any)

method:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch and shock the broccoli just until crisp tender, gently squeezing out any excess moisture.
  2. Rinse the crab well, then steam for 15 m. Crack open the shells and remove the meat, cutting it into 2″ segments.
  3. Heat a wok over medium high heat, then add the oil, just until it shimmers.
  4. Explode the garlic just until fragrant, then add the broccoli and crabmeat, stirfrying until heated through.
  5. Season to taste (the crab may be salty enough that you don’t need to add any salt), and serve.

do ahead:

The crab and broccoli can both be prepared up to a day ahead of time, making this a super-quick stirfry to serve company – keep refrigerated until about an hour before you are ready to stirfry.

Winter Vegetable & Pressed Beancurd Stirfry

Truly deep into the winter vegetables in Michigan now – if we want to buy local, we’re down to roots and a lot of the cabbage family. Luckily we like those veggies, but we do think often of the farmers’ market in Torrance these days…. This recipe is great for using up broccoli stems, although I often see only broccoli crowns available. We often eat steamed broccoli, both stems and tops, but we like to reserve a few stems for just such a dish, making the food dollar stretch a little further.

I try to cook with mostly whole, local, close to the source ingredients, but once in a while we will buy some bamboo shoots, and they are a great addition to this dish. If you live near an Asian market (or your regular grocery is into Asian ingredients) you should be able to find vacuum-packed bamboo, either the whole shoots or slices or shreds – any of those are infinitely preferable to the canned varieties.

Pressed beancurd, called doufu gan (sort of translates into “tofu jerky!”) is literally tofu that has been pressed to squeeze out excess moisture. The result is a firmer texture that some people compare to meat, although the flavor is of course different. Pressed tofu comes in a variety of flavors – our favorite is five-spice, which has a dark, slightly smoky exterior and an off-white center. You can easily substitute baked tofu, now readily available in most conventional markets, for this ingredient. Since much of the flavor in this dish comes from the beancurd, you can play around with the various flavors available – as with the Christmas Stirfry, the bbq type might be interesting here – but you may want to reduce or eliminate the soy sauce in that case.

Leftovers? Chopped finely into “confetti”, this stirfry is excellent mixed into Fried Rice.

ingredients:

  • 3 squares pressed five-spice beancurd or baked five-spice tofu (other flavors can be substituted)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/8 x 1/8 x 1.5″ strips
  • 1 large broccoli stem, peeled and cut into 1/8 x 1/8 x 1.5″ strips
  • 2 oz bamboo shoot, cut into 1/8 x 1/8 x 1.5″ strips
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste

method:

  1. Slice the beancurd 1/8″ thick, then cut the slices into shreds approximately 1.5″ long.
  2. Heat the oil in the wok just  until it shimmers.
  3. Add the carrot, broccoli stem, and bamboo shoot strips and stirfry gently until the vegetable just wilts but is still bright green.
  4. Add the tofu and stirfry to heat through.
  5. Add the soy sauce, stir to combine and heat thoroughly, adjust seasoning, then slide onto the serving plate.

“Christmas Stirfry”

My husband made this for dinner yesterday, and it was strikingly pretty (as well as tasty!), in the perfect seasonal colors.

Garlic chives, jiucai in Mandarin, are available in Asian markets and at farmers’ markets that have vendors of Asian produce. The look like a long, flattened version of our chives. When fully grown they are not hollow at the center and sometimes have buds at the tips. If you can’t find them, you can substitute the more commonly found chives (reduce the cooking time) or scallions cut into thin 2″ long strips. The flavor won’t be identical, but it will be tasty all the same.

Pressed beancurd, called doufu gan (sort of translates into “tofu jerky!”) is literally tofu that has been pressed to squeeze out excess moisture. The result is a firmer texture that some people compare to meat, although the flavor is of course different. Pressed tofu comes in a variety of flavors – the most common one for this dish is five-spice, which has a dark, slightly smoky exterior and an off-white center. You can easily substitute baked tofu, now readily available in most conventional markets, for this ingredient. Since much of the flavor in this dish comes from the beancurd, you can play around with the various flavors available – bbq might be interesting here – but you may want to reduce or eliminate the soy sauce in that case.

Leftovers? This stirfry is excellent mixed into Fried Rice.

ingredients:

  • 3 squares pressed five-spice beancurd or baked five-spice tofu (other flavors can be substituted)
  • 4 oz garlic chives (or use 2 oz chives or 4 scallions as mentioned above)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 x 1.5″ strips
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste

method:

  1. Slice the beancurd 1/8″ thick, then cut the slices into shreds approximately 1.5″ long.
  2. Wash the chives well and cut into 1.5″ lengths – you can keep the buds intact if there are any.
  3. Heat the oil in the wok just  until it shimmers.
  4. Add the tofu and stirfry to coat with the oil and heat through.
  5. Add the chives and red pepper strips and stirfry gently until the vegetable just wilts but is still bright green.
  6. Add the soy sauce, stir to combine and heat thoroughly, adjust seasoning, then slide onto the serving plate.