Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bok Choy with Shallots and Anchovies 白菜清炒小鱼干

Mock me for not having oyster sauce in my pantry. How can I not have that? And call my cooking Asian (Chinese) cooking?!?!?! Alright, oyster sauce tastes good (makes food tastes good!) and is quintessential in Chinese cooking esp. stir-fries. However, I have "pledged" to reduce the use of bottled seasoning/sauces, especially those with ingredients that does not spell natural to me e.g. MSG as flavor enhancer, modified corn starch, caramel color.

Don't get me wrong. Not all bottled sauces are bad. I still use soy sauce (ingredients: soy beans, wheat, salt, water, sugar); sesame oil (ingredients: sesame oil); Chinese black vinegar (ingredients:  water, glutinous rice, salt); Chinese cooking wine.

But the good is: ever since I reduce the dependence on not-so-natural bottled sauces, I have learn to use natural ingredients to season and flavor as much as possible.

Let's say - without oyster sauce (the convenient tasty sauce), how then can the Chinese veggie stir-fry taste good?

Sometimes, a batch of fried shallots to flavor things up, keeping the remaining shallot oil to fry the veggies; while other times, fry up (and toast up) some dried "small fish" anchovies to add crispy fragrance to the dish.

Stir-Fry Bok Choy and Carrots, with Fried Shallots and Toasted Anchovies
Ingredients: 2-3 bok choy, rinsed and cleaned, separate leaves and stems; 2-3 thin slices ginger; 1 clove garlic, finely minced;1 tbsp julienned carrots; dash of soy sauce; 1tbbsp cooking wine; sea salt and ground white pepper to taste

Directions: Heat some oil in wok, aromatize the ginger and garlic. Then add the carrots to fry briskly. Add the veggies (stems first), and fry for 2-3 minutes, then the leaves (another 2 mins). Add soy sauce and fry briskly and when they are almost cooked, drizzle cooking wine along the edge of the hot wok so that you hear sizzles (which means aroma!). Cover the wok for 1 minute. Then remove the cover, S&P to taste. Dish out. Top with toasted dried anchovies and fried shallots before serving.

Alternatively, you can also add the toasted dried anchovies and fried shallots into the wok after turning off the heat and mix them thoroughly with the veggies.

Can you do without oyster sauce in Chinese cooking?

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