A quick and easy stir-fry this week, on the occasion of the fact that I had four heads of pak choi in my garden, ready to be eaten. This sounds very matter-of-fact, but for me it’s cause for celebration, because those little pak choi seeds actually made it all the way from their package to my plate!
As a relative vegetable gardening newbie, my fingers ar not quite as green as I’d like them to be yet. Every spring I start with good soil and good intentions, carefully watering new seedlings and tending to the bigger plants. And then that moment of drought appears, when I just happen to be busy or on holidays, or I find I overcrowded the flower pots – again – which means I end up with withered herbs, tiny beetroots, crooked carrots or just a big hole in the soil because the slugs beat me to the harvest. But not so this time! With four heads of leafy cabbage ready to be turned into a summer supper, my day was made.
Pak choi, also known as bok choi or Chinese celery cabbage, is a loose-leafed oriental cabbage. Low in calories, it’s rich in fibre, calcium, iron and vitamins A and C, to name just a few, which makes it a healthy addition to your food. Both the leaves and the stems are eaten, having a mild and sometimes slightly peppery flavour, which pairs wonderfully with hearty and sweet and sour dishes. It makes a lovely addition to oriental soups and, briefly stir-fried, it makes a speedy and crisp summery side.
For this particular summer evening, I stir-fried the stems and leaves with garlic and ginger and drizzled the result with a fragrant and sweet and sour sesame, soy and lime dressing, which made them turn out deliciously. So for all you gardeners with pak choi ready to be harvested, or anyone who’d like to use this veg for a light and flavour-packed dinner, here’s a recipe to make it shine. A generous sprinkle of sesame seeds, peanuts for crunch and coriander for those who like it (me!!!) and in minutes, you’re good to go.
Prepared like this, it makes a fresh and fragrant side to go with anything you like. For a light and nutritious dinner, I combined the pak choi and its dressing with rice noodles, fried tofu and cooked soy beans. Just a suggestion…
Happy summer evenings!
Pak choi strir-fry with ginger, lime and sesame
- 2 heads pak choi
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 5 cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- zest and juice of 1 lime
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. sunflower oil
- 4 tbsp. unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
- ½ tbsp. white sesame seeds
- ½ tbsp. black sesame seeds
- small bunch of coriander, leaves only
- 350 g firm tofu, drained, cut into large pieces and patted dry with kitchen paper
- 250 g rice noodles
- 200 g cooked young soy beans
- sunflower oil, for frying
Cut the pak choi stems into rough chunks and roughly tear the leaves. Keep the stem pieces and leaves separate and set aside.
Make the dressing by whisking the sesame oil with the lime juice, lime zest, soy sauce, maple syrup and half of the chopped garlic and ginger.
If you plan to combine the pak choi with the tofu, noodles and soy beans, it’s a good idea to prepare those first. Cook the rice noodles according to the instructions on the package. Heat a thin layer of sunflower oil in a frying pan and fry the tofu pieces until golden and crisp on all sides. Transfer them to a plate lined with a sheet of kitchen paper and set aside.
Heat the 2 tbsp. of sunflower oil in a wok over a high heat. Stir-fry the pak choi stalks for a few minutes until caramelized at the edges, but stil crisp and fresh. Add the pak choi leaves and the remaining ginger and garlic and stir until the leaves are just wilted and the ginger and garlic are fragrant.
Serve as a side with dishes of your choice, sprinkled with the peanuts, sesame seeds and coriander leaves and drizzled with the lime dressing.
Alternatively, divide the fried tofu, cooked rice noodles and soy beans over four bowls. Top with the stir-fried pak choi and drizzle the whole dish with the lime dressing. Enjoy sprinkled with the peanuts, sesame seeds and coriander leaves.