Peter, the owner and founder of Monta Vista Market asked if I could feature Bok Choy this week… and I replied with a resounding YES.
Contact info & location, below.
I love bok choy. I’ve only come to appreciate bok choy in the past year, since going to the farmer’s market more often and thusly making chopped salads with crispy greens. And, oh boy, are these crispy and have quite a flavor profile. Plus you get the bonus of a big dose of vitamins and minerals from the leaves —without the hard-to-chew (and swallow) fiber.
I chose braising because I think it’s one cooking method where you can cover a lot of ground, going in many directions with the flavors, textures, colors.
Braising is a cooking method using dry (sauteing) and wet heat (adding a liquid), and mostly utilizing not-so-tender meats. The meats are cooked for a long period of time, from 1 to 4 hours, or more. And –lucky for us veggie lovers– braising veggies can be quick, super easy, tasty and have curb appeal.
Bok choy is one of my favorites for several reasons, you’ll see my reasons at the end of this post.
Here’s a quick overview of my braising method….
- Cook a mirepoix (10 minutes).
- Add flavors and the bok choy (5 minutes).
- Add fresh herbs ( 1 minute).
- Add fat (1 minute).
Total time can be 17 minutes for the well rehearsed home chef.
Here’r the ingredients used in the images below:
Sweet Sour Salty Braised Baby Bok Choy
- 1 small leek (stalk only, use leaves in another dish)
- 2 celery ribs
- 10 green olives
- 1/4 cup juice from the olives
- 2 bunches baby bok choy
- 1 cup water
- 3 scallions (bulb, stalk and leaves)
- 1/4 cup pomegranate syrup
- 1 tbls tamarind syrup
- 1 tbls oregano water (see photo, below)
- 2 tbls butter
- First, I got all my ingredients together. If you don’t have a leek, then use a couple of shallots and or one bunch green onions (bulb, stalk and leaves). And, if you don’t have green onions, use a small onion (yellow, red or white).
- I washed leeks and celery and then cut them to about 1-inch long pieces, put’m in a food processor until they were small bits, but not broken down all the way to mush.
- Then I cooked the mirepoix in a skillet, no oil, just using its own juices, on medium to low heat. Click here to read more about my ‘dry saute’ method.
While the mirepoix was cooking, I washed the bok choy in very sudsy veggie wash to help lift and remove dirt, dust, etc. Then I drained the bok choy. I got this wash at Trader Joe’s, it has a lot a foaming action, which seems to work really well at lifting the dirt and dust from in between the stalks. I don’t leave the bok choy in the bathwater too long, for fear that it’ll absorb some of the sudsy water. The veggie wash is ‘safe’ — I’m okay with the ingredients– yet don’t want any unusual flavors in my dish. I fanned the leaves in the water, swishing them to and fro. I did the same when I rinsed’m. Playing with the food like this helps me get to know it’s structure, nuances, etc. Plus it was a great way to meditate. The water ought to be cold, yet not too cold that you prohibit your hands from enjoying the water.
Be sure to stir the mirepoix –and add some green olive and juice when the mirepoix starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. If the mirepoix is turning brown then the pan is too hot, and or it needs to be stirred more often.
Replace the bok choy with Napa cabbage and or savoy cabbage, or broccoli, or fennel bulb…. or … share what you used, I would love to hear about your creations.
Normally, I would use sliced pitted green olives, however, I only had whole olives (with the pit!), a mistake in grabbing the wrong jar a while back. Twice in my life I’ve ‘pitted’ olives –with a pairing knife– and vowed to never do it again. It’s so labor intensive that it pulls me away from being creative and puts me into task mode, not a good thing. Hmmm, I saw John Gray give a talk tonight in Palo Alto, he’s promoting his new Venus/Mars book — and now I’m thinking that pitting olives would be a good task for a male, not so good for a female. Eventually, you’ll be able to see a recording of his talk here. He’s a very entertaining, captivating speaker.
In place of water, you can use veggie broth or meat broth or bone broth. Most times, tho, I like to create a broth using the flavors coming from whatever foods I’m using.
Don’t have scallions? …then use chopped chives, parsley and or cilantro.
If you cover the pan you’ll risk the leaves turning brown and having an off-tasting dish. Read more about avoiding brown leaves, here.
Any concentrated fruit syrup will work in replacing the pomegranate syrup, even jams and jellies. Come to think of it — apple butter will work, too. The tamarind paste is used for it’s tart sour flavor, substitutions would be: lemon juice, rhubarb, dried cherries, heck – try molasses, I think it’ll work. Oregano water is worth getting, its flavor is amazing.
I got mine at a small Persian market in Pleasant Hill. Indian markets might carry it. Whole Foods might have it. It’s generally right next to the orange blossom water, rose water, pomegranate syrup and tamarind paste. All of which, btw, are worthy putting in your pantry.
The butter with the syrup mixture is … is… is… superb. Ya just can’t go wrong with butter mixed with sweet and sour. Think maple syrup, butter and strawberries on pancakes. ‘Nuf said.
Try raw (unrefined) coconut oil instead of the butter. The tropical flavor gives a wonderful exotic-ness to the dish and will go well with the tamarind. I add the fat at the end of cooking for two reasons… one: to use less fat; and two: to minimize cooking the fat (fats oxidizes easily with heat, not good, there’s lots of published research on this).
As a therapeutic chef I look for ways to minimize harmful affects of cooking — and the maillard reaction and fond are two that I avoid. Both are coveted by most chefs (including me) for both visual appeal and taste satisfaction. So, I’ve challenged myself to come up with ways in which to create the look of browned food and to create the unami flavor in my food. You’ll be able to read more about this in my upcoming book: The Upgraded Chef (available online, soon!).
Bok choy is one of my favorite veggies to braise because…
- the stems are thick and even after being cooked it holds its shape and quite a bit of its crunchiness.
- the stems are watery, which then permeates the dish when cooked.
- AND the stems, once it releases its water, easily absorbs liquids, including other flavors that are in the dish.
- it inherently has an unami flavor (peppery and earthy tones) and so is a good choice for those of use who are avoiding black pepper, garlic, most onions and browned foods.
- lastly, I love’m raw, so I enjoy munching on’m while I’m prepping the dish.
- I’ll prolly think of more reasons and will write’m here for you when they come to me.
I do cooking demos at the store as well as write the weekly recipes. Here’s more info about the demos…
Walk with me, let’s travel around the store to pick out the ingredients for my cooking demo. I’ll make a new dish each hour, so drop in at the top of the hour to help me create the next dish that I make. Come taste my improv (no recipes required) creations. You’ll be inspired, you’ll get info, you’ll get deals!
We’ll select any thing that you are interested in … fresh produce as well as dry goods from the shelves, new arrivals and on-sale items. Each demo will be unique, inspired by those who are with me.
LEARN TIPS & TRICKS — You’ll learn cooking tips and tricks for flavor structure, speed cooking, batch cooking, and much more. Get answers to your cooking and health questions. See a chef’s mind at work, learn to think the way I do when I put together ingredients to make a tasty dish.
I’ll cover cooking methods, kitchen alchemy, raw foods, cooked foods, most dishes will be vegan and vegetarian. I may cook up some Rosie’s chicken from time to time.
MY COOKING DEMO SCHEDULE (no cost)
- Sunday, June 10; 1-4 pm (at the Cupertino’s Farmer’s Market, 11am to 12:30pm)
- Sunday, July 22; 1-4pm (at the Cupertino’s Farmer’s Market, 11am to 12:30pm)
- Saturday, August 11; 1-4pm
- Sunday, September 9; 1-4pm (at the Cupertino’s Farmer’s Market, 11am to 12:30pm)
- Saturday, October 27; 1-4pm
- Saturday, November 10; 1-4pm
- Sunday, December 9; 1-4pm (at the Cupertino’s Farmer’s Market, 11am to 12:30pm)
Monta Vista Market location
Monta Vista Market
21666 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Cupertino CA 95014
Store Phone: 408-777-0330
Store E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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About Monta Vista Market
Monta Vista Market is locally-owned and managed by Peter and Gail Yessne, long-time residents of Cupertino. They have been gardening organically in Monta Vista for more than 25 years.
As available, Peter and Gail plan to offer their Cupertino-grown produce for purchase at the store. While not certiifed organic, their vegetables are grown without the use of pesticides, hericides, insecticides, or chemical fertilizers. Peter and Gail use organic compost generated from their kitchen and garden waste, supplementing periodically with locally generated compost made with horse and chicken manure.
Monta Vista Market has also established a business partnership with ALBA, the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association, based in Salinas CA Two percent of the store’s sales is donated to further ALBA’s mission of training low income farm workers to become self-sustaining organic farmers. In turn, ALBA is a primary produce supplier to Monta Vista Market.
The employees at Monta Vista Market are encouraged to be knowledgeable in various aspects of organic produce and organic agriculture, so that they can answer your questions about use of vegetables, fruits, and other organic food offered at the store. If we can’t answer your question immediately, we’ll do the research and let you know the answer.