- 1-1.5 inch diameter of bundled on choy
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1-2 dried red chile
- 1/3 cup of water
The vegetable green in this dish goes by many names, “on choy”, “water spinach,” and “kong xin cai,” to name a few. I prefer the English translation of the last phrase which is, “Hollow Heart Vegetable.” The name is very descriptive of the vegetable – its a tall leafy green of which the main stalk is hollow! On choy is hard to find in regular American supermarkets – but its one of veggies regularly stocked at your Asian-mart. Be sure to pick one out that looks fresh - i.e. stiff stalks, green leaves (not mushy). They’re usually wrapped tightly in plastic to preserve freshness.
The following dish is very simple, all you need are a few cloves of garlic (3-4), salt, and water (and of course the vegetable). Its a great side dish to pair with a “hearty” meal (ha!) or its great just served with a warm bowl of steamed rice .
- First, chop off the leafy parts of the on choy and set that aside.
- Take the long stems and cut them into half-inch lengths.
- Thoroughly wash the stalks and leaves.
- Chop the leafy parts down to similar sizes (you don’t have to, when cooked they’ll wilt away into almost-nothingness like regular spinach leaves!). Keep the two parts separate!
- Smash, peel, and dice the garlic cloves
Wok it up!
- Heat your pan/wok on medium-high; when hot, add 1-2 Tbl of vegetable oil
- Crack a dried red chile and toss into the wok
- Quickly add the garlic and stem pieces of the on choy (don’t let the garlic burn! Bitterness is not what we want here!)
- Sprinkle a pinch of salt and toss the wok contents continuously for about a minute
- Add the chopped leaves on top, toss a couple more times
- Add about 1/3 cup of water and cover the wok to steam the on choy
- Turn heat off and let the veggies steam for 2-3 minutes (don’t leave this sitting too long! Soggy, limp stalks is not good)
Serve with rice!