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May 21, 2010

 

Mustard Greens Black Bean Paste Stir Fry. This is a dish I just throw together at the last minute, without really thinking it over too much. So feel free to mess with the recipe. We’ll need:
 
½ onion, peeled and sliced thin
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
About 1 pound chopped washed mustard greens (green or purple, any kind is fine)
1 tablespoon black bean garlic paste (available in the Asian foods section)
A splash of orange juice or a squeeze of lemon
1 tablespoon oil
 
            Heat up the oil on almost all the way high in a skillet until the oil is nearly smoking. Add the sliced onions and stir so they won’t burn. Add the garlic and mustard greens about 2 minutes later. It’s good if the greens are still a little bit damp from the washing, the steam generated will help them cook. Add the splash of orange juice and stir the greens for another 2 minutes or so, or until the mustard is wilted but is still vibrant green. We also want the onions to be translucent, if not a bit browned. Serve wtih steamed rice or quinoa.
            Some other optional additions would be tofu for texture and protein, red pepper flakes for a bit more spice, fresh ginger would be great, and sesame oil for a richer flavor. Of course, other veggies are always great in a stir fry as well, but this is sort of in the more traditional style that really highlights the perfect simplicity of the star ingredient, mustard greens.
            But I have to say, one other style of stir fried greens I really love to do is to cook them almost all the way, then clear a little nest in the center of the pan. Crack a couple eggs in the middle and scramble them before tossing it all back together with the mustard. Yum! The fresh greens aren’t overpowered, just really complimented by the dark, fermented flavors of the black bean paste. Nice one!
            And of course, like any stir fried veggie, I think this would pair really well with some simple soy or teriyaki chicken or pork, if that suits your fancy. But we’ll save that for another show, because I’ve been dreaming of a spicy mustard greens soup.
 
            This Chinese Musard Greens Soup is light and easy, but very flavorful. Again, it stars my abundant and spicy friend, but this time wilted into a delicious broth. We’ll need:
 
1/2 pound (about 4 cups sliced) mustard greens (or bok choy)
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock (home made if possible, you may be able to substitute up to half water for commercial stock because we are adding other salt sources)
1 tablespoon fresh gingerroot, grated
4 ounces sliced wild morel mushrooms, about 2 cups (or use shitakes, conventional crimini mushrooms or a combination of all of the above)
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce or to taste
A few star anise pods (optional)
A dash of fish sauce (about a tablespoon, also optional but delicious and adds that authentic touch. Be careful, its very salty)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Dash of red pepper flakes
Dash of white pepper

Slice the greens into thin strips. Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan and add gingerroot, hot pepper flakes, white pepper, and star anise. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, then stir in sliced morel mushrooms. Stir in the sliced greens and the soy and fish sauces. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the greens are fully wilted but not overcooked. Add the sesame oil at the end. Serve with a side of hot steamed rice or quinoa to scoop into the bowl to bulk it up a bit.

 
This is a truly delicious soup, and it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to cook if you prep every thing ahead of time. Again, you can always add lots more things to play with the recipe. I like to simply slice up some extra firm tofu into small cubes and add that in for that good old texture and protein. But some pork or beef sliced extreeemely thin could also be simmered in the broth to delicious effect. You would want to add the meat before the greens, because the it would take longer to cook.
 
I also think very thinly sliced red or yellow peppers would be delicious in here. Or how about minced green onions? Mine are starting to come up in the garden. Some fresh cilantro would be nice. In fact, it is very classy (and traditional in the Vietnamese pho style) to serve the soup in big bowls with side plates of sliced lime, cilantro or basil leaves, bean sprouts, and maybe some sliced fresh hot pepper so each person can add their own customized accoutrements.  

 

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