"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Friday, June 3, 2011

Eat Your Greens, Street Food Style

Devin and I visited the new Uwajimaya yesterday, only intending on a few sauces...Needless to say, we came home with a wee bit more than a few.  What can I say?  It's the food lover's version of a kid-in-a-candy-store kind of thing.  As we were leaving, hefting our bags out to the car, Devin said:  "Wow.  That was so much fun!  I can't wait to go back!"  It's a grocery store, people.  Selling food.  No toys, no crazy doodads or whatsits.  Food, interesting food, lights my gal up.  And I have got to dig that.

A bit of our haul:

Hmmm...baby bok choy, choy sum, Chinese long beans, ginger...

So, what's for dinner?

Time to bust out one of my absolute favorite cookbooks ever:  Street Food, by Tom Kime.  Full of gorgeous, simple recipes and travel anecdotes about street food from around the world.  I pretty much drool as soon as I open the pages.  Each dish is vibrant, colorful, and screamingly fresh.  My kind of food.  Incidentally...this is the perfect cookbook for summer.  There are a number of barbecue dishes, easy-to-take on-a-picnic foods...great entertaining food, not your usual burgers and dogs on the BBQ.

Anyway, let's make some Nonya Sambal.  A super easy, great weeknight meal, it takes only minutes to cook.  Tom's recipe is adapted from an Indonesian sambal, but he also credits Malaysia and Singapore, for its inspiration. 

Oh, and by the way, my kids loved this.  In the interest of not burning their mouths with the sambal, however, I only put about 1 1/2 tsp of the hot stuff in, instead of the 1 Tbs suggested in the recipe.  Sambal is pretty spicy chili sauce, especially for a small sort of person, and if you've got little ones, you can always serve some up alongside the meal, at table.

And one more thing.  If you can't get some of these vegetables, substitute!  The thing with traditional street food like this is that people use what's available and fresh.  No choy sum?  Use broccoli, broccoli raab, or maybe some asparagus.  Whatever sounds good.  You absolutely cannot mess this up.  So go crazy.

Nonya Sambal - Adapted from Street Food, by Tome Kime
serves 4, as a main course, or 6-8, as a side dish

1 head choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage), or purple sprouting broccoli
2 heads pak choy or bok choy
1 Tbs vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
4 oz green beans, ends trimmed (I used Chinese long beans)
1/2 cup bean sprouts, rinsed
handful each:  fresh mint leaves, fresh cilantro leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

1 Tbs sambal oelek
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs hoisin sauce

-Cut the stems of the choy sum into 2 inch lengths and separate the leaves.  Cut the bok choy in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 2-4 wedges (depending on size), through the base.

-To make the sauce, combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, and reduce over high heat for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

-Heat a wok over medium-high heat and add the oil.  Stir-fry the garlic and ginger for about 30 seconds until golden brown and fragrant.  (Careful, you don't want it to burn, and embitter the dish!)  Add the choy sum stems, bok choy, green beans, sauce, and 1 Tbs water, and stir-fry for 2 minutes.  Next, add the choy sum leaves, and stir-fry for a further minute, or until tender.  Add sprouts, mint, and cilantro, stirring and tossing for 30 seconds until wilted.

-Taste a little of the vegetables with the sauce, and adjust the seasoning to taste. Season with salt and pepper.  It should be hot and spicy, but with a balance of salty, sour and sweet flavors.  Serve immediately.

Because this was our main course, we served it atop basmati rice. 
How easy was that? 
Enjoy your dinner.

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