Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Yu Choy Sum (Cai Xin) with Shiitake Mushrooms

When I was a kid, caixin was not a favorite vegetable at all because it is always dry, wilted and bitter. Overcooked veggies are never good, just like overcooked anything. I never thought they were bad because they were just overcooked, I just assumed they were just not the best veggies. The simplicity of a kid's mind.

Anyway, I found some caixin at Russo's (a large produce stand in the next town), and I was excited, since it must have been years since I had caixin. Veggies can't be that bad, and in fact, caixin is great! They're crunchy, leafy and really delicious when cooked right. The trick is to fry the different parts of the vegetable for different times. The stems take longer, and the leaves take close to no time at all, so the stems go in first, then the leaves - as simple as that!

Ingredients (2 servings)
  • approx 3/4 lb caixin (sometimes you find it as yu choy)
  • 6 to 8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked (keep the water) and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • salt for seasoning

  • Wash the caixin, then cut it half, separating the leaves from the stems. 
  • Split the larger stems in half lenthwise, so that everything cooks for the same amount of time.

  • In a heated pan, add the minced garlic and fry for about 30 seconds, then add the sliced shiitake mushrooms and fry until fragrant.
  • When the garlic starts to brown slightly, add the stems and fry until the middle of the stems look slightly transparent.
  • Add the leaves, water used for soaking the mushrooms, some salt and fry until the leaves are wilted (maybe about 1 minute).
  • Remove from heat immediately, and serve.

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