Bok Choy aka Pak Choi aka Chinese White Cabbage
This past Sunday I went to my favorite year-round Farmer’s Market in San Francisco held weekly on Grove and Divisadero. Known as the Divisadero Farmer’s Market, it’s a small yet charming gathering of vendors. Not only is the Divisadero Farmer’s Market my favorite, it’s also conveniently located within walking distance from my apartment. Vendors selling Locally-grown fresh produce weekly is no more than a 10-minute walk away.
One of my motives that day was to find an ingredient I’ve never cooked with before and to cook it. Although it was one of my incentives for going, two other reasons why I went to the farmer’s market that day was to ask vendors if they would be willing to give away their leftover produce for a free community dinner we are hosting at St. Cyprian’s and to do some produce shopping.
I woke up early and ventured off to Divisadero with no particular ingredient in mind. I first met up with one of my environmental studies capstone class professors, Morgan Fitzgibbons. He helped me with the gleaning process of the St. Cyprian dinner. He introduced me to two very nice vendors he knew at the market who were both willing to give me their leftover produce two weeks from now for the community dinner we are hosting on Tuesday April 10th @ 7pm.
Besides the two vendors Morgan had introduced me too, I was also able to convince another vendor to give me their leftover produce for the event. I was so pleased by their generosity that I also ended up buying my key ingredient for this assignment at their stand! I found some great-looking bok choy and realized that I’ve never cooked with it before. In fact, I’ve never cooked with any Asian Greens at all. I gave the vendor a buck for a bunch, but I wasn’t done shopping yet. I went on to the strawberry stand from Gilroy, CA where I chatted with the vendor about Gilroy agriculture. I brought up the subject on garlic farming and he began to tell me that Gilroy no longer grows what they are most famous for, Garlic. He went on by telling me that Fresno, CA is now where most land is used for garlic farming. I thought it was very interesting. I brought it up to my garden professor Justin Valone and he told me the reason for that is because the industrial farmers repeatedly used garlic on the same land which depleted the soil making it not useful anymore. Thank you industrial agriculture.
This evening, I cooked the Bok Choy I bought yesterday by using a mix of three recipes from The Sunset Cookbook I received as a gift for my birthday this year. Here is the recipe I ended up creating from a mix of the three (Stir-Fried Asian Greens, Pan-Steamed Asian Greens with Shiitake Sauce, Baby Bok Choy with Sesame Soy Sauce):
Stir-Fried Bok Choy
1lb Boy Choy, bottoms trimmed
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 tbs Rice Vinegar
1/2 tbs Soy Sauce
1 1/2 tbs Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Remove and discard any yellow, damaged, or tough leaves from greens. Trim off and discard tough stem ends.
2. Set a 12-in. frying pan over high heat. When hot, add oil and garlic; cook stirring, until garlic begins to brown, about 15 seconds. Stir in Bok Choy. Cover and cook until stems are tender-crisp. 2 to 3 minutes. Add Rice Vinegar and Soy Sauce. Cook until leaves are a bit wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
It ended up being super delicious tasting and easy to make. I shared it with my roommate and my neighbor and the both of them loved it. This assignment actually inspired my roommate and I to make Asian Greens more often! And as long as it’s in season, I’m definitely going to cook this esculent dish again in the near future.