Although I’ve consumed Chinese cuisine most out of any cuisine in my lifetime, I have hardly cooked it myself. My memories of Chinese cooking are of my mother, my aunts and my grandmother. As a little girl, I always helped in the kitchen – but had no idea what I was doing. I always found it enjoyable and enjoyed eating the food even more.
This past Sunday, Rachel and I walked down a few blocks from our house to the Grove Street Farmers Market. A complete change of scenery than our adventure to the Ferry Building Farmers Market (sunshine instead of showers!) had me excited to visit. A quaint row of tents along our neighborhood homes made the farmers market experience brand new. Beautiful weather and running into friends among the crowd made this particular experience memorable. We perused the tents and came across a variety of Asian produce from Padao Farms in Fresno, California. When I saw the familiar Chinese produce that I’ve eaten, but never made for myself, I knew I had to get something from the two amicable farmers. The farmer ensured me the batch of greens I had in my hand were esculent and indeed, Chinese Broccoli. My favorite Chinese vegetable and I’ve never cooked it – this was it!
When it was time to cook the Chinese Broccoli, I called my mother – expert of Chinese cooking. Since I didn’t have Oyster Sauce (traditional Chinese sauce seasoning) in the kitchen, she told me to substitute the flavors with a few dashes of tamari, a generous amount of garlic, beef broth and salt to season. Cover it to steam and voila.
Chinese Broccoli was relatively easy to prepare. I rinsed them in water and chopped the ends. Then, I cut the broccoli into fourths, allowing each stock to fit into the pan. After letting the drizzled vegetable oil heat up, I placed four smashed cloves of garlic in the hot pan. In went the Chinese Broccoli (stems first because they take longer to cook), seasoning and beef broth. I covered the pan and let the stalky broccoli steam for about 20 minutes.
I immediately served the hot broccoli on a plate with white rice. The salty flavors of the Chinese Broccoli were the perfect complement to plain Jasmine rice. Although I had cooked the broccoli with different seasoning than I would normally have at a family dinner or at a Chinese restaurant, it turned out to be absolutely delicious. Now, I have got to get some Oyster Sauce and cook it just like my mother, my aunts and my grandmother.