Green right from the start: you wanted spinach and pesto, and as a baby you’d gnaw on the end of a bok choy stalk as happily as if it were an arrowroot biscuit. I am just back from the Cherry Street Asian market. It is HUGE as you know, and located right on a finger of the wharves down here, so the setting is pretty dramatic. Today was particularly stunning: on a drizzly cold day, a low cloud hung over the barn like building, and ship masts nearby loomed out of the clouds creating quite some drama.
Anyway, I am home now, laden with all ther good things that place has to offer: great pieces of fresh pork at ridiculously low prices, tender galangal, Chinese New Year cards (coming soon!) and LOTS of the best fresh veggies. Of course I am thinking of you, unloading the kai lan, bok choy and snake beans. You’d be so excited at this market harvest if you were here. Also bought a plump pink pomelo, and a box of Japanese green seaweed salad. The pomelo is lovely and refreshing with lightly cooked prawns or fish, tossed with some cilantro and toasted coconut.
Flying back from christmas in Australia, I always wonder how I can cook bettter. It ties in with all that New Year’s resolution stuff: cook more interesting meals, eat more healthily, etc. I have been doing some research online about what types of food keep our metabolic rates ticking at a good pace.
The bottom ( pardon my pun) line is any kind of processed food slows down our metabolism. You could say in that department, our family’s been pretty good about daily meals being cooked from scratch with fresh ingredients, and we do eat a ton of vegetables. If anything, I know you’ll take the healthy eating up a notch. Dad and I have often agreed that if we ever won the lottery, we’d hire a traditional South Indian cook and become vegetarian (with a dispensation to eat bacon from time to time!!). Haha- I’m sure all the true vegetarians out there would be horrified at the thought!
When you go past an Asian grocery store Izzy, do stop in. Somehow, the veggies are always so fresh, and look like they’ve just arrived from the garden. Their bundles tend to be generous, and the prices low. The huge bag of kai lan I brought home was $2.49. You could feed all of Grouse with the one bag. How cheap is that! Some delicious kai lan on top of steamed rice. What could be nicer.
That seaweed stuff is pretty magic too. It is so packed with goodness, eat it when you can: add it to salads, or use it as a side with a piece of grilled fish or chicken. Here is the recipe for the kai lan with oyster sauce which you never fail to order at a Chinese restaurant. When I was in a foreign country aged 16, I had the sweetest housemate from Johor called Jit Jee. This is how she made kai lan, and I have followed her recipe ever since.
Kai Lan with Oyster Sauce
- I bunch kai lan
- three to four tablespoons oyster sauce
- three tablespoons soy sauce
- one tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- Bring a pan of well salted water to the boil
- Cut the stems off the leaf and make two separate piles of leaf and stem
- Throw the stems into the boiling water and cook for two minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon or tongs
- Now throw in the leaves and cook for barely a minute. Remove, drain thoroughly, and arrange the stems and leaves onto a platter
- Heat the oil in a fry pan and cook the garlic. Watch carefully as garlic burns eaily. As it begins to turn golden, add the oyster sauce and then the soy sauce. the micture will splutter. Reduce the heat, stir well and add a tablesppon of water if it begins to evaporate and stick to the pan.
- Turn off the heat, and pour the sauce over the pile of vegetables.