Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wâa-wâa-choi w/ Pork or w/ Mushrooms Stir-Fry

Here is the kind of cruciferous or cabbage vegetable I recently found at my favourite seller in Mongkok. Its name is wâa-wâa-choi 娃娃菜 which literally means “doll vegetable”.


This is the 2 lbs wâa-wâa-choi I bought!

The wâa-wâa-choi which looks like a bouquet of flowers or a head with lots of individual kind of small head cabbages is produced in Taiwan. It is in season right now with other vegetables belonging to the same mustard family including Chinese white cabbage or bok-choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, turnip, etc.
I knew that the baby size of the Chinese cabbage  also known as celery cabbage or Napa cabbage - in Cantonese wòhng-ngàh-baahk 黄牙白, was named wâa-wâa-choi 娃娃菜 but never heard of another vegetable with the same name and a different look.

Napa cabbage - Celery cabbage - Chinese cabbage
Here are the dishes I made with the wâa-wâa-choi:

Wâa-wâa-choi and pork
Wâa-wâa-choi and mushrooms
Wâa-wâa-choi and Pork Stir-Fry:

  • 200g pork, sliced
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • ½ head (~1 lb) doll vegetable – wâa-wâa-choi - sliced (not too thin)
  • 2 slices of ginger, crushed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 sprig of spring onion

1 tsp light soya sauce
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp rice wine
1 tbsp oyster sauce
½ cup water

1 tsp of tapioca starch
1 tsp water
½ tsp salt

  1. Toss the sliced pork in marinade ingredients and set aside in fridge for about ½ hour.
  2. Wash and peel any tough fibrous stalk. Pull out any damaged leaves.
  3. Cut off the small florets and cut into 2-3 pieces. Slice the stalk (centre part).
  4. In a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, heat canola oil; add pork, brown well on all sides. Remove from wok and set aside.
  5. In same skillet - add oil if necessary - add ginger and garlic to stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add the sliced doll vegetable and seasoning.
  7. Stir-fry for two minutes; add pork and cook until tender but crisp.
  8. Transfer to a serving dish.
  9. Add freshly ground black pepper and garnish with spring onion on top.

The doll vegetable is milder than Brussels sprouts in taste and has the same texture to that of a broccoli stem or a kohlrabi gaai-làahn-tàuh 芥蘭頭.

The problem (if I call this a problem) is that when you prepare meals for a small family a whole cabbage is too much for one dish and you don’t want to eat the same thing 2 days in a row.

The wâa-wâa-choi I bought weighed only 2 lbs but I only needed one half to make the above stir-fry.  I wrapped the other half in newspapers and stored it in the fridge to sauté it with onion and fresh mushrooms a few days later.  
And for the 2nd dish I paid attention not to overcook the wâa-wâa-choi as it tastes better crispy (and looks better too).

Wâa-wâa-choi and mushrooms stir-fry

Wâa-wâa-choi stir-fries: light, easy, and healthy! Bon appétit!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stem Lettuce: Stir-Fry and Salad

Stem lettuce is one of the vegetables that I wished to try this year. As I already tried arrowroot/arrowhead, chìh-gû 慈姑, so far I still have 3 more (from my list) to taste. However I know that there are many more local vegetables to discover as well as herbs and fruits {such as Chinese olives, myrobolan -also known as Indian gooseberry, etc.}

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Persian Rice for my 1-year blog anniversary

Today, Feb 18, 2012 is my 1-year blog anniversary. I cannot believe that a year has passed since I wrote my 1st post.
As of today I have posted 72 entries and thanks to my ~190 twitter followers (it’s funny the figure keeps changing) and my friends on Facebook the number of visits to my blog has increased progressively over the year.

As you might have noticed my posts have changed since the first one in which I only gave only one recipe. There was no story, no introduction, and no comments. It is also thanks to fellow bloggers who keep inspiring me that I progressively added stories and information to enrich my posts.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Watercress, Duck Gizzards and Pork Soup

Watercress is in season!
Watercress is one of the many members of the cabbage family so it is not surprising that it also has a similar peppery and strong taste.  This leaf vegetable is said to be rich in vitamins and have many health benefits.

Cantonese people usually make soups with watercress and cook it with diverse dried ingredients for additional flavour (and health benefits). Another way is to stir-fry it. This is very different from the Western style.  I remember my Mum’s cream of watercress soup (made with potatoes and a dollop of fresh butter or crème fraîche!) and her watercress and hard boiled eggs salad (prepared with the young and tender leaves).  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fresh Mustard Tuber with Pork

Last week I saw a funny looking vegetable at the market. When the seller told me its name I immediately recognized it, although I had never seen it before in its raw form. 
I was looking at a mustard tuber called in Cantonese ja-choi 榨菜 and which is well-known in its pickled and spicy form.

Fresh mustard tuber / Ja-choi / 榨菜