Before objecting violently that native pechay is not exactly bok choy, read this. That said, know that I have neither the time nor the inclination to engage in a discussion-going-nowhere about the intricate world of Chinese cabbages. I’ve a lot of writing to do tonight. There’s this recipe and two other articles — one on how to boil water and another on how to steam.
No, that’s not a joke. It seems that there are people who can’t tell between simmering and boiling, and there are people who have no idea why the water has to be boiling before putting the food in a steamer. I’m not being sarcastic. I want to be helpful but it has to be on my terms. I don’t like repeating answers to questions that have been asked before and will likely be asked again. So, instead of robotically responding to repetitive questions in various comment threads about boiling, simmering and steaming, I’ll just post articles that discuss all of them in detail. If I don’t get lazy, maybe, even with illustrative photos. So, take sarcasm out of the equation. This is me being nice.
But after posting this recipe and before writing those two other articles, there’s our Fringe marathon. We’ve been watching Fringe for three nights in a row hoping to see every single episode from Seasons 1 through 4 before Season 5 begins. Just so we don’t get lost in the mind-bending storylines which, to me, are more worth pondering and discussing than whether pechay is bok choy or pei tsai or pak choy. Yes, I like mind-benders and pechay just doesn’t fit into the category.
This recipe combines four basic cooking techniques — browning, braising, sauteing and stir frying. Browning gives the meat better texture, braising makes it tender without creating a soupy mixture, sauteing with aromatics gives depth of flavor without liquefying the aromatics and stir frying cooks the pechay sufficiently without turning the leaves into a limp and sorry-looking mess.
Recipe: Pechay (bok choy) with pork and tofu in oyster sauce
- 100 to 150 g. of tofu, soft or firm, lightly fried
- 2 tbsps. of cooking oil
- 200 g. of pork belly, cut into bite-sized pieces
- soy sauce
- black pepper
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 tbsps. of oyster sauce
- a bunch of pechay, cut into 2-inch lengths, stalks and leaves separated
- Browning the meat. Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan or wok. Add the pork in a single layer and cook over high heat until browned. Flip to brown evenly.
- Braising the meat. Pour in a few splashes of soy sauce, season with black pepper and a pinch or two of sugar, and add about a cup of water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer until tender and the liquid has reduced to almost nothing. Depending on the quality of the meat, the cooking time can be anywhere from ten to 30 minutes and you may need to add more water if the pork is rather though and requires extended cooking time. Adjust the seasonings too from time to time as the pork cooks.
- By the time the pork is done and the liquid has evaporated, the pork should have also rendered some fat. You can throw the fat away and add a tablespoon of cooking oil to do the next steps. I have to point out thought that the rendered fat is so rich in flavor.
- Sauteing the meat and aromatics. Add the garlic and sliced onion to the pork. Over medium heat, saute until fragrant, about a minute.
- Stir frying everything. Pour in the oyster sauce. Add the pechay stalks. The pechay will expel water as it cooks so don’t panic if the mixture appears too dry and about to get burnt. Cook, stirring often, for about a minute.
- Add the pechay leaves (more water will be expelled so you’ll have more sauce than you might have thought) and the cooked tofu. Cook, with occasional light stirring, for another minute.
- Serve hot with rice.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2 to 3