How does one make the ubiquitous fried fish lunch more colorful and exciting? By serving a vegetable side dish that goes well with the fish, of course. A salad is quick and easy but I’m Asian and I admit my weakness for stir fried vegetables. So, for today’s lunch, we had crisp fried alumahan (any of several varieties of mackerel) and a side dish of baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms.
Bok choy is none other than our native pechay although there is also a Chinese cabbage called pei tsai. Any variety of Chinese cabbage will work well in this dish but if you want to learn more (or get even more confused), read about bok choy, pak choi, wombok and other varieties of Chinese cabbage.
- 1/2 c. of dried sliced shiitake mushroom caps (or twice as much if using fresh)
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
a large bunch of baby bok choy
2 tbsps. of cooking oil
For the sauce:
3/4 c. of the water in which the mushrooms were soaked (if using fresh mushrooms, substitute broth for the soaking water)
2 tbsps. of oyster sauce
1/2 tsp. of salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. of sugar, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1 level tsp. of corn or tapioca starch
a drizzle of sesame seed oil
If using dried mushrooms, soak them in hot water for 20 minutes. Strain and reserve the water.
Start boiling about six cups of water in a pot.
While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the garlic and onion. Cut off the root ends of the bok choy too.
Prepare a bowl of iced water.
Blanch the bok choy in boiling water. The stalks will take a little longer to cook so slide them in first. Cook for three minutes then push in the leaves. Cook for another two minutes.
Scoop out the bok choy with a slotted spoon and dump in the iced water. This will immediately stop the cooking and help the leaves retain their color. Stir around for a few seconds, strain well then arrange in a shallow serving bowl.
Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Throw in the rehydrated shiitake mushrooms. Stir fry for about a minute.
Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce. Pour into the pan. Cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick.
Pour the mushrooms and sauce over the bok choy and serve at once.
Cooking time (duration): 15 minutes if using fresh mushrooms; about 25 minutes if using dried
Number of servings (yield): 2 to 3
Meal type: lunch