We harvest bok choy at various stages of development; mature and baby (a couple weeks old). Baby bok choy is far more delicate in flavor and texture than in its mature stage but is still robust enough to cook in braises, stews, or stir-fry…just put them in later rather than earlier.
Note: Stir-frying is a high heat, short cooking time technique that does not “cook” the veggies per se but quickly heats them up. The quick heat also brightens the colors of the veggies, especially green ones. Your stir-fried veggies should be hot, colorful and still crisp. Stir-fried dishes where the green veggies such as broccoli are more olive green in color means the veggies are overcooked. Also, when stir-frying meat you want to slice the meat very thinly, again because of the high heat and short cooking time.
Preparation Time: 15-20 minutes (prep the baby bok choy and shiitakes)
Cooking Time: 7-8 minutes
Serves: 6 as a side dish (a good rule of thumb is to use two baby bok choy and two shiitake mushrooms per diner if the dish is served as a side dish)
- 12 baby bok choy, washed well (they can be sandy), quartered lengthwise
- 12 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, cap sliced into strips
- You can also use button or cremini mushrooms in this recipe. They aren’t as flavorful as the shiitakes but they are more readily available.
- 2 tbsp peanut oil or safflower oil
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce; a little goes a long way but you can always add more
- 2 cloves of garlic sliced
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- Wash the bok choy very thoroughly, especially in the lower stem part as it can be sandy, remove and discard the protruding root stem (if any) and any discolored leaves, cut into quarters lengthwise; set aside.
- Not necessary but we give the cut bok choy another good rinse and ride in the salad spinner. This removes any sand or dirt that we may have missed the first time AND it removes any excess water so that we don’t get a lot of splatter when the bok choy pieces hit the hot oil in the wok.
- Brush off any surface dirt from the shiitake mushrooms, remove the tough stem (save them for veggie stock), slice the mushroom caps lengthwise into strips; set aside.
- Peel and slice the garlic; set aside.
- If you don’t already have toasted sesame seeds they are easy to do; you just have to watch them like a hawk while your toasting them:
- Place a small frying pan on a burner set to medium-high heat, wait a minute or two for the pan to heat up, add the sesame seeds, and begin stirring with a heat resistant spatula, stir until the seeds have a light golden color, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
- Place a large wok or large frying pan on a burner set to high, wait a minute for the pan to heat up then add the oil, wait a few seconds for the oil to heat up to almost smoking then quickly add the bok choy pieces.
Safety Tip!: The secret to a great stir-fry is high heat, very high heat, but if you’re not familiar with cooking in a wok on high heat and wait too long to put the oil in, your wok will almost immediately start smoking. Do the following until you are more comfortable with working with high heat cooking…
- Place the wok on a burner set to medium-high, wait a minute or two for the pan to heat up then add the oil, wait a few seconds more for the oil to warm up then crank the burner to high.
- Quickly add the shiitake mushrooms, stir occasionally, cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Note: You want to “turn over” all the contents of the wok to ensure that all the shiitakes are coated with the oil and make contact with the bottom of the hot wok or pan, but you don’t want to over-stir the shiitakes while they are cooking as they will begin to break up. Also, button and cremini mushrooms are not as delicate so this will be an issue if you use those varieties instead.
- Add the baby bok choy, continue to stir occasionally for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the oyster sauce and toasted sesame seeds, stir to mix well and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Your baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms in oyster sauce is done!