This is a super duper easy recipe to make as it only requires steaming your vegetables and making an oyster or mushroom based sauce to pour over them. Whenever I am short on time and want something substantial AND healthy, this is my go-to. You’ll want to use something like Bok Choy, Kailan or Choy sum- something with an equal leaf to stem ratio. By that I mean something that has tender greens but also a good amount of edible stem which will hold up when cooked. It’s the combination of the soft leaves and tender but crunchy stems that provides a beautiful balance of textures. As an alternative to steaming, you could always boil the vegetables but then you lose all the nutrients to the water.
A quick note on the sauces. Oyster Sauce is a popular Chinese condiment used in many dishes, traditionally made by simmering oysters in water for a very long time until it becomes a caramelized liquid. It doesn’t taste anything like actual oysters in my opinion and is sweet and savory at the same time. For vegans & vegetarians, like I mostly am, there is a mushroom alternative to this which I actually find to be more enjoyable as it tends to be less rich. This dish uses either oyster or mushroom sauce to flavor a broth based gravy but many dishes simply use them on their own drizzled on top. If you are unable to find them or find the idea of them kinda gross (to each their own), you can simply substitute with just sugar as described below. The flavor is not nearly as intense but is a nice, milder alternative. I am currently working on perfecting my own vegan oyster sauce alternative which doesn’t require use of special, one-off ingredients. Once I’ve perfected it, I’ll post it up here.
Chinese Greens in Oyster Sauce
Serves 4 as a side
A few bunches of Chinese Greens: Kailan, Choy Sum or Bok Choy
A Bamboo Steamer (any steamer is fine but Bamboo sounds cooler :p)
2 cups Broth– Any kind of broth is fine HOWEVER I find broths made with carrots and celery, ie European style broths, to be not quite right. For best results use a dashi broth, plain chicken broth or kombu dashi broth.
2T Light Soy Sauce
2T Oyster or Mushroom Sauce (OR 1T Sugar)
5 dried Shiitake Mushrooms-reconstituted in boiling water for 10-30 minutes until softened.
4 cloves Garlic– finely chopped
Starch Slurry: 1T Potato or Corn Starch + 2T Water mixed together.
Get your steamer and water warming up to a boil.
If using gailan or choy sum, chop off the tough ends and either leave whole or cut into long pieces. If using bok choy, leave the ends if they are not too tough but if you do have to cut them, try to keep the leaves together in their natural bunches.
Chop the reconstituted mushrooms and garlic finely. Heat a little sesame oil in a saucepan and throw the mushrooms and garlic in. Saute for about 1-2 minutes.
Add the broth, soy sauce and oyster sauce to the pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let it gently simmer.
By now, the steamer should be ready. Put your vegetables in the steamer on a heat-safe plate stacked neatly in a pile and steam for about 5 minutes.
When the vegetables are done, turn off the heat and crack the lid of the steamer to let the steam out just a little bit so the heat doesn’t fully escape but enough so the veggies stop cooking.
Turn your broth mixture up slightly to a gentle boil and slowly add the potato or corn starch slurry while stirring until the sauce gets to the consistency you like. It should be thick but not syrupy or gloopy.
When the sauce is right, turn off the heat. Transfer the still-hot steamed vegetables to a serving tray, again, piling them up neatly and then pour the the thickened sauce over the top.
Notes on steaming, boiling or stir frying
It’s pretty obvious but this sauce can literally be poured over anything. So if you don’t have a steamer or can’t be bothered:
a) Simmer the gailan, choy sum or bok choy whole for a few minutes or until they are tender, then drain and chop as desired or leave whole. Remember though that simmering or boiling will cause many of the nutrients to go into the water.
Alternatively, you can blanch the kailan or choy sum in boiling water off the heat for a few minutes, just to soften the stems slightly then drain, chopped as desired and stir fry them for a couple of minutes. Bok choy doesn’t need to be blanched before stir frying as the stalks are more delicate. Kailan and Choy Sum have thicker stems and sometimes need to be tenderized a bit for a stir fry this quick.
Once cooked, you can pour the sauce over it as previously mentioned. Hope at least some of this made sense! I’m writing this after a long work dayyyyyyy……Zzzzzzzzz…..