It was Wednesday – or what we could call Cooking with Grace (using Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge, by Grace Young), but Wok Wednesdays already says it all! This week − a recipe from Chef Danny Chan, a San Francisco chef.
This home method for a restaurant quality dish is yet another reason I love cooking (or wokking) my way through this cookbook and the great group that is cooking with me. Although the ingredient list may seem long, and minutely detailed, the result is wonderful and the ease of actually cooking it all comes together quite easily once you have your prep work done. I was afraid I might miss out this week, having come home with a bad cold after traveling, but the ginger and garlic come through so nicely in this dish that it was worth the extra concentration in measuring out my ingredients. I consider that my built-in zen practice. Preparation allows you to focus and begin the quick dance in the wok with as calm and present a mind as possible. Really, it is why I cook − being present and involved, putting everything else aside. I was able to make this because my trusty partner willingly hunted down the fresh ingredients. We made just a few substitutions that are practical. Two nearby Asian markets did not have Chinese broccoli (known as Gai-lan or Kai-lan) on hand, but they did have fresh broccolini. While it doesn’t have the exact flavour of the Chinese broccoli, it is similar enough and cooks very much the same, so that a substitution is not a problem (it actaully is a cross between gai-lan and regular broccoli).
Opting for tinned water chesnuts, made my prep even easier since they were sliced as well. Lastly, the pork shoulder looked a bit too marbled, so himself made the same decision I would have, and selected nice, lean boneless center-cut chops. Those also made slicing no work at all and cooked to a lovely tenderness.
The broccoli (whether you are lucky to have fresh Chinese broccoli or have made another substitution) is briefly blanched immediately before you heat your wok.
The bright colours and vibrant flavours sing through – even someone with a cold feels better with crisply cooked vegetables and a lean meal. I served this as a complete meal, no added starch needed though there is a nice sauciness that would go beautifully if you want to add some steamed rice, and would make this serve more than two people easily.
There is one special ingredient I always was fascinated with in restaurant dishes – the beautiful straw mushrooms. They look like a silky three-dimensional rendition of mushroom illustrations from my 70’s childhood, and along with miniature corn, always made going out for Chinese dinner an adventure picking thru a platter of peppers and carrots, looking for one more tiny corn cob or fairy-land mushroom! But honestly, this is better than many of those dinners out. So easy!
Having a basic pantry and refrigerator stocked with oyster sauce, regular and dark soy, ginger and garlic, Shao Hsing or sherry − you can pull off any of these dishes with just a bit of planning for the fresh ingredients.
This recipe is found in Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge, page 77. You also might want to try this recipe on Grace’s website, as a nice introduction to her book. If you have not already visited the Wok Wednesday website or our Facebook group – please stop on in, get your book and wok with us!