I harvested a bunch of bok choy from our garden and, hence, this dish. I cooked it for my daughter, Sam, who eats no mammals.
What is bok choy?
It is one of the many varieties of Chinese cabbage — an ambiguous term that English speakers often use to refer to Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis. Depending on where you are in the world, it can be spelled pak choi, bok choi, and pak choy.
Which part of bok choy is used in cooking?
Bok choy grows in bulbs and the lower stalks can be light green or white. Both leaves and stalks are edible although the stalks are not as flavorful as the leaves. They require a slightly longer cooking time too.
To cook this dish, start by sauteeing shallot, garlic, ginger and tomatoes with fish sauce and pepper. I used cherry tomatoes here but you don’t have to. Regular tomatoes will do. Two medium ones, diced, should be the equivalent of the cherry tomatoes I used in the dish. Taste a piece first and, depending on how tart the tomatoes are, decide if you need sugar in sauteed shrimps and bok choy.
Because bok choy stalks take longer to cook than the shrimps, add them to the sauteed vegetables as soon as the latter start to soften. Continue sauteeing until the stalks are half cooked.
Spread the shrimps over the vegetables, do not disturb for a minute then add more fish sauce and pepper, and sugar if needed. Stir and continue continue cooking until the shrimps are half cooked.
Add the bok choy leaves and cook just until wilted. By that time, the bok choy stalks and shrimps should be done without being overcooked.
How much liquid should there be by the time the dish is done? A tablespoonful or two — just enough to drizzle over the cooked dish to make it glossy.
Sauteed shrimps and bok choy
- Place the shrimps between stacks of paper towels and press down lightly to remove excess moisture.
- Cut the bok choy into one-inch slices; separate the stalks from the leafy portions.
- Heat the cooking oil in a pan.
- Saute the shallot, tomatoes, garlic and ginger with half of the fish sauce and half of the pepper until the vegetables are just starting to soften.
- Add the bok choy stalks (they take longer to cook than the shrimps) and continue sauteeing for a minute.
- Spread the shrimps in the pan and cook without moving them for a minute.
- Drizzle in the rest of the fish sauce, sprinkle in the rest of the pepper and all of the sugar.
- Stir the contents of the pan and cook until the shrimps have almost completely changed color.
- Add the bok choy leaves to the shrimps. Cook, tossing, until the leaves are wilted.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
- Serve your sauteed shrimps and bok choy immediately.