Happy New Year everyone! I hope you are off to a great start. For the first post of 2014, I would like to share something easy yet tasty with you. This Yu Choy Sum is an “evergreen”, a veggie dish that I grew up with and continue to enjoy to this day. It requires just a handful of ingredients and takes only minutes to prepare. Nothing can be simpler.
Choy sum/chai sim/菜心 also known as yu chai, oilseed rape, or Chinese flowering cabbage is a very popular vegetable among the Chinese. The name choy sum literally means “vegetable heart” as its green leaves and stems are tender and juicy. If allowed to mature and bolt (rapid growth from leave based to flower and seed based) yellow flowers will appear and the plant becomes sweeter and more succulent.
When buying choy sum, always select small tender stalks. Flowers should be tight and compact or they would have pass their prime. If they are small enough, the entire stalk can be kept whole. Larger stalks (as seen below and in the step-by-step pictures) should be cut into 2 to 3 inch lengths.
Choy sum can be steamed, blanched, or stir fried. Sometimes it is also added to soups. Perhaps one of the best ways to savor this succulent vegetable is to lightly blanch and season with oil and soy sauce, known simply as Yu Choy Sum with the word yu or yau meaning “oil”.
Do not overcook these leafy greens. They should be lightly blanched for no more than 2 to 3 minutes so that they remain juicy and slightly crunchy. They can also be successful cooked in the microwave. Do give it a try.
- 1 lb (450g) choy sum (also known as yu chai)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
Wash and drain choy sum thoroughly. Trim 1 inch off the end of the stalks. Cut off each leave from the stalk and then cut the leave into 2 or 3 bite size pieces, about 2 to 3 inches in length. Cut the top part of the remaining stalk into bite size pieces as well. Stems and leaves should preferably be separated.
Place vegetable oil, sesame oil, and minced garlic in a small microwave proof dish and microwave for 1½ minutes on high. Remove and add soy sauce. Stir to combine.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add choy sum stalks for 10 seconds followed by the leaves. Remove with a metal strainer as soon as they turn a bright green color. This should take approximately 2 minutes.
Alternatively, choy sum can also be placed in a large microwave proof bowl. Microwave for 3 minutes on high.
Place choy sum in a large bowl. Press vegetables with strainer to remove excessive water. Pour garlic soy dressing over vegetables. Mix well and serve immediately.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!