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Farmers' Market Desserts
By Jennie Schacht

Beyond Bok Choy
By Rosa Lo San Ross





A Handy Guide to Asian Vegetables

It is the fact that "Chinese cabbage" isn’t really cabbage at all that prompted Rosa Lo San Ross to write her latest cookbook, Beyond Bok Choy. The book is an attempt to sort out that and other sources of pervasive confusion about Chinese vegetables.

It is long and narrow in shape, designed to be slipped into a pocket or bag to take on an excursion to the market. The book has about 50 large, vivid photos of Chinese greens, squashes, tubers and shoots with the name of each in English and two Chinese dialects. The text and recipes describe what they are and what to do with them.

So what is "Chinese cabbage"? It is not true cabbage, a crop that ascended from a European weed. Cabbage has been grown in China for at least 2,000 years, but the weed is unknown in Asia, so the cabbage must have been carried in from Europe. The tight-heading crop that has come to be known as Chinese cabbage, some botanist have concluded, is a cross between bok choy and a turnip. The crop comes in a myriad of variations, four of which Ross included in her book: flat cabbage, flowering cabbage, bamboo mustard cabbage and wrapped heart cabbage.

Along with Chinese cabbage and bok choy, Chinese broccoli is one of the most widely available Asian vegetables, and can generally be found at any farmers market displaying other Asian vegetables. The "beef with broccoli" on the menu of every Chinese restaurant in the country served with non-Chinese broccoli is but a shadow of the dish with the genuine Chinese vegetable, Ross writes.

Authentic Beef with Chinese Broccoli

1-1/2 pounds Chinese broccoli (gai lan)

For the marinade:

1 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tbs cornstarch
2 tsp dry white wine
1 pound flank steak
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 scallion, green and white parts minced
1 tbs dark soy sauce
1/4 cup unsalted or low-sodium chicken stock or water
1 tbs brandy
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp roasted sesame oil

1. Wash the broccoli well in cold water, separating the leaves and the tender hearts and the stalks. Peel the thicker stalks, if necessary,. Set aside.

2. Make the marinade. Mix the soy sauce, cornstarch, and wine in a bowl. Slice the beef across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick pieces about 1-1/2 inches long. Combine with the marinade and let stand at least 10 minutes.

3. Heat 1 tbs oil in a wok and stir-fry the broccoli stalks, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, then add the leaves and hearts and stir-fry another 30 seconds, tossing frequently. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

4. Return wok to the heat and add the remaining 2 tbss oil. Over medium-high heat, stir-fry the garlic, ginger, and scallion for 30 seconds, or until aromatic. Add the beef and stir-fry until browned, tossing frequently. Add the soy sauce, stock, brandy, and sugar, then the broccoli, tossing to blend and heating the broccoli. Turn off heat, drizzle with sesame oil, and serve.

Copyright 2005 Seasonal Chef