When I arrived here in Portland at the end of the summer, the long-time transplants warned me about winter. Not so much the weather, but the reaction to it.
“This city shuts down under an inch of snow,” warned native midwesterners, suppressing groans.
I understood – both the fact of the matter, and the annoyance with it. Asheville does the same thing, since it’s full of tiny mountain roads that turn to ice faster than a moonshine hangover, but as soon as a flake of snow hits the air, everyone runs over to the supermarket to stock up on milk, water, and toilet paper, since they’re expecting a return of the Blizzard of ’93. (You still see t-shirts at the Goodwill announcing “I survived the Blizzard of ’93!”) I had a handful of days off from school when my northeastern-born parents looked out the window, said, “You’ve got to be kidding,” and took me out for breakfast.
Portland got a couple of inches of snow on Sunday, which all melted on Tuesday, and I’ve barely been able to get anything done. Except go to work, that is – no snow days for me, since I live 20 blocks away. Heaven forbid I try to make any doctor or massage appointments, though – I’ve been getting answering machines all week.
Today, though, is the start of a 3-day weekend for me, and I was excited to wake up to giant snowflakes falling outside my window. This, I thought, is a day for tea and some good greens.
Deborah Madison taught me about bok choy. Her recipe for stir-fried bok choy with peanuts, from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, is the one that I apply to just about everything I feel like coating in soy sauce. Having grown up in the south, I can’t help but feel that every green thicker than spinach should be cooked to within an inch of its life, and I think that this new business of stir-frying collard greens is just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Bok choy, however, does really well in this application, and is very well-rounded by peanuts, cooked in a rich-tasting roasted peanut oil, with a bit of heat at the end from ginger and red pepper flakes. This time, I used some baked tofu instead of peanuts, but I’ll post the original recipe and let you find your own variations. It’s an excellent introduction to throwing some veggies in a pan.
Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Roasted Peanuts
recipe by Deborah Madison
3 tablespooons raw peanuts
2 teaspoons roasted peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds bok choy
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch stirred with 3 tablespoons water or vegetable stock
Fry peanuts in 2 teaspoons roasted peanut oil until they’re golden. Chop with red pepper flakes and a few pinches salt and set aside.
Slice off bok choy stems and cut them into 1″ pieces. Leave the leaves whole. Set a wok over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil and roll it around the wok. When hot, add garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add bok choy and a few pinches salt and stir-fry until wilted and glossy. Add soy sauce and cornstarch mixture and stir-fry 1-2 minutes more until leaves are shiny and glazed. Add crushed peanuts, toss, and serve.