Shaoxing Baby Bok Choy

The shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking sherry; a pantry staple for us) and soy reduction in this recipe provides just enough salt to season the vegetable as well as just a hint of sweetness, but not enough to overwhelm the delicate flavors the bok choy is already bringing to the dish. This is a delicious appetizer, side dish, or vegetable course meal suitable for 2–10 people. It’s the kind of plate that people will want to gather around and demolish the moment it comes out of the wok. Oh, and if you’re snappy, it can be ready in about seven minutes. Yeah. Seven.

The law with smaller vegetables is that usually their flavor is concentrated, which proves true here. Bok choy keeps a lot of water in its stalks, so when it’s cooked correctly it can be really succulent, almost like celery. Its grassy flavor is refreshing and delicious, and its leaves wilt nicely when cooked to absorb any sauce you mix with it.

Shaoxing Baby Bok Choy:

Serves 2

  • ½ pound cleaned baby bok choy, stems removed

  • 1 teaspoon oil with a high smoking point (we used vegetable oil)

  • 2 tablespoons shaoxing wine

  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

  • 1 large green onion, chopped

  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil

  • 1 hefty pinch of sesame seeds

Heat a wok on high until it just starts to smoke, then add the oil and swirl it around the pan. Add the bok choy to the hot wok and toss well, coating it in oil as well as instantly wilting the green leaves. Let the bok choy sit on high heat for about 30 seconds to achieve a little bit of singing, then flip the vegetables over like one would with an omelet (or just give it a good stir if you’re not comfortable flipping).

Add the shaoxing wine and the soy sauce to the wok, then let the bok choy sit as the sauce reduces, about 1–2 minutes depending on your stove; you’ll want the liquid to reduce by about half. After the sauce has reduced enough and the stalks have become a much deeper green color, add the chopped green onion and give everything in the wok a quick stir; cook for another 30 seconds or so to wilt the green onion.

Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Transfer the the warm bok choy to a serving plate and garnish with some sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

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