Tuesday, November 6, 2012

stir-fried leafy greens

now that you feel all awesome and self-satisfied about voting (if you're in america, of course. and if you voted - DID YOU?!), you can keep the momentum going by making some healthy vitaminlicious greens for dinner. treat. yo. self.

this is a very basic method that works for all kinds of greens, although the more tender ones like baby spinach or something will take less time than the more brawny specimens. 

we went to the local asian market the other day to get things like japanese curry powder (to finally make katsu kare from scratch!) and pocky. pocky and gummy fruit candies are very necessary, particularly if you're being good and eating your greens.

i feel a little weird saying "asian market," because obviously asia is a gigantic continent with many different cultures and foods. however, this particular market, while leaning mostly toward vietnamese and chinese food (the japanese curry powder was in the "foreign foods" section), bills itself as the "premier asian grocery" of central texas, so whatever, haters. 

we also loaded up on frozen things like edamame and tofu skin (apparently you can make noodley things with it?) and lots of produce, like the adorable and tiny indian eggplants below (that's a reference quarter at the bottom - so tiny!). 

i got a ton of greens and greens-like things, because there's so much more variety than you find at typical supermarkets. the only problem is that they need to be eaten fairly quickly, so i've definitely been getting my nutrients this week. we got little baby bok choys, chinese broccoli (like broccoli rabe, but less bitter/spicy), yu choy (pictured below), and amaranth greens (which are pretty and delicious). 

i hadn't had yu choy before, but it's sort of like bok choy mixed with chinese broccoli. and it has pretty yellow flowers. to stir fry it, i used the basic template i almost always use with greens, which can be dressed up if you're going for the flavors of a particular cuisine.

the basic form is to cook lots of minced garlic and some chili flakes for about 30 seconds in some pretty hot oil, then add the greens and a little liquid and let things cook until the greens are tender (5-10 minutes, depending on heartiness). then if you're making southern-style greens, for instance, you could add some chopped bacon or smoked paprika and diced onion to the garlic/chili flakes mix.

in this case, i wanted to go more chinese in style, so i used about 2/3 garlic to 1/3 minced fresh ginger and added some soy sauce as the greens were cooking. once everything was just about done, i added some leftover cooked rice, toasted sesame seeds, a bit of rice wine vinegar and a little sesame oil.

when you're cooking something with relatively thick stems like this, it's a good idea to put the stem parts in first, let them cook a bit, then add the leaves. that way nothing gets too overcooked. in this case, i just chopped the yu choy into ~1 1/2 - 2 inch sections from the bottom of the stems up through the leaves. i added the stems to the hot pan after the garlic, ginger and chili flakes were getting nice and toasty and let them cook (with a tablespoon or two of water) for a minute or two before adding the leaves and a bit more water. then just let things cook until the greens are tender - this took about 7 or 8 minutes. it's not a big deal if it's not all perfectly separated into stems and leaves, though - think broad strokes.

this is a super-easy and very quick (going from washing the yu choy to eating it took about 10 minutes) and incredibly healthy. it's just what we all need to keep from worrying ourselves sick over this election. fingers crossed!

~ 1 pound greens (yu choy, bok choy, kale, spinach, mustard, chard - ALL the greens are good)
5 - 6 cloves of garlic, minced
~ 1 - 2 tablespoons of minced ginger (i used a coin about a centimeter thick and 1 inch in diameter)
big ol' pinch of chili flakes (to taste)
~ 3 tablespoons water
~ 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce/tamari
1 - 2 teaspoons rice wine (or other) vinegar

the rest is optional, but good:
lots of toasted sesame seeds
~ 1 teaspoon sesame oil
garlic chili sauce
mustard (it's a little weird, but it works. for me.)
leftover rice
some kind of cooked tofu/chicken, etc.

listening to: new mountain goats album! (duh)