Bok and Mushroom.
Bok and Mushroom.
Image: Yang Zhao

Baby bok choy is fast becoming a favourite and is now found in many supermarkets. I love it for its mustardy flavour when not overcooked. It’s delicious, perfect as it is with minimal ingredients, and sautéed in salt and a tiny bit of water.

Baby bok choy’s name from home is “Shanghai green” or “Shanghai bok choy”. It is well loved, and if you’ve ever been to a Chinese restaurant, you would’ve seen or tasted it. However, I cannot be sure if you’ve had it at its best, especially if they appear on your plate looking dull and wilted. Then most likely it has been over cooked and in too much oil.

This dish, a classic in Chinese banquet-style dinners, is a great idea for a beautiful, warm side to your Asian-style or inspired meals. The bok choy accompanies perfectly with the savoury, sweet and fragrant mouthfeel of shiitake mushrooms, and is what Asian cuisine calls “the fifth taste”: umami. It seems like a simple dish, but it requires attention to heat and time. Never confuse anything simple for easy. Truly, no matter the simplicity or complexity of a dish, learning and enjoyment will always be a bonus to any culinary experience.

Mushroom oyster sauce.
Mushroom oyster sauce.
Image: Yang Zhao

Ingredients:

  • 300g x baby bok choy (cut in half)
  • 150g x shiitake mushroom (if they’re the dried version from an Asian store, remember to soak in water to rehydrate, for 15 minutes in lukewarm water, do not dispose of water)
  • 1 TBS x oyster sauce (I used a vegetarian version, made from mushrooms)
  • ½ TBS x Shao Xing Wine
  • ½ TBS x dark soy sauce
  • 1 TBS x light soy sauce
  • ½ tsp x sugar
  • 1 x sesame oil
  • 1 x TBS minced garlic
  • 2 x TBS x corn starch

Method:

  1. Bring 500ml of water to the boil, add a teaspoon of salt and drizzle of oil, and blanch bok choy for 30 seconds, then remove bok choy and immediately run it under cold water to stop the cooking process, this is an important step to ensure that the bok choy doesn’t overcook and lose its bright green colour.
  2. Arrange bok choy on a plate, set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat, add minced garlic and mushrooms.
  4. Add Shaoxing wine and then mushroom water.
  5. Add dark soy, light soy, oyster sauce, sesame oil and sugar,
  6. Stir corn starch into two cups of cold water, then slowly add it into the mushroom and sauce, to thicken.
  7. Let mushrooms cook for two minutes in the sauce.
  8. Place mushrooms on top of the bok choy, drizzle sauce and serve.
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