I was so very happy to find my favorite vendors back at the farmers market after a two month's long absence (I guess everyone needs a vacation occasionally). Luckily, their tables were packed high with the most beautiful selection of winter produce one could lay eyes upon, so their absence was almost excusable, after all, they were still obviously working hard tending their crops. They had Chinese spinach, cilantro, dill, lemongrass, carrots, sweet potatoes, ginger, bok choy, scallions, leeks and more. I settled on what they called Japanese bok choy, mostly because it was so beautiful and I had never seen it before.
It is dark leafed and ruffly with long, tender stems held together at its base. When I sliced them apart, I was pleased to find a little broccoli-type floret, hidden in a cluster of leaves. Raw, they tasted earthy, a bit like cabbage, and not overly bitter like some greens. But when cooked they took on a hearty, almost horseradish flavor, which quite a pleasant surprise for my taste buds. I made them into a little stir-fry with a bit of chicken and served it over rice. The recipe is one I adapted from Bon Appetite, and it tasted light and healthy with a burst of fresh flavor on the tongue. Regular bok choy can be used, but seek out the Japanese kind from your local farmers market for a real treat. This recipe would also work well with firm tofu or mushrooms instead of chicken, and can be marinated the same way.
Japanese Bok Choy Stir-Fry
2-3 bunches of bok choy (Japanese if you can find it), cored and washed
2 chicken breasts, cut in small chunks
3 cloves garlic
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and grated
8 scallions, in one inch slices
2 T vegetable oil
Toss chicken in a splash of soy sauce, a t of grated ginger and a t of dark sesame oil. Let sit for about 20 minutes.
Combine 1/4 C soy sauce, 2 T balsamic vinegar, 2 T dark sesame oil, 2 t cornstarch, 2 T honey in a small bowl.
Heat oil over high heat in a large skillet or wok. Add garlic and ginger and saute just until fragrant. Remove chicken from marinade with a slotted spoon (discard marinade). Add to pan and saute until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan. Add bok choy and scallions and stir just until bok choy is starting to wilt. Return chicken to pan and add sauce. Continue to stir until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Serve over rice or noodles.