Yummy Bok Choy Side Dish!

Traditional Chinese food is hit or miss for me. Bear in mind, there are multiple styles of Chinese cooking and I'm not educated in any of them. Dim Sum please! The style that I have the most exposure to is my girlfriend's family home cooking. The spread for every occasion is intense! When her brother got married? 7 course meal of amazingness. That taro duck didn't know what hit it! Thanks Yen-Nei!

Most things at the table, however, are not on the flavorful packed end of the spectrum. They are mild and well balanced. I tend to scoop plenty of red pepper on the side. However... there is one dish on the table that I tend to hog: Grandma Shek's bok choy. She cooks it perfectly. It's never soggy, the color is vibrant, and the sauce is harmonious.

Bok choy is a wonderful vegetable in itself. I cannot really explain the flavor. The stalks are crunchy like celery but it's not stringy. It's not bitter like spinach, but it's not plain like lettuce. It can go in anything- great for stir fry and soup! Served with this garlic, ginger infused soy sauce- all you really need is a bowl of rice!

Only thing is, the main person doing the cooking is Grandmother Shek. I don't want to be a weirdo all up on her in the kitchen. I don't speak her language and she doesn't speak mine. I know half of the family already raises an eyebrow when my cheesing, non-Chinese self tears into dinner. Don't mind me! I just love food...

Well. I did some covert ops in the kitchen. Talked to a few friends. Did some research. Recited this recipe and got a few nods and suggestions. This has the overall seal of approval and is my effort of mimicing Grandma Shek! Stif fry bok choy with the gingery, garlic sauce!

Note: If you're like me and enjoy your veggies more on the crisp side, first cut off the thicker white portion of the stalks and cook them, then toss on the leaves. You don't want to over cook the leaves waiting for the stalks to soften.

Also, if you're not a fan of the sweet side- you can eliminate the oyster sauce and the brown sugar all together. Substitute with 1 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch! If you go this route, prepare the sauce as described (minus oyster sauce and brown sugar). Pour some in a cup on the side and thoroughly mix in the cornstarch- you do NOT want clumps. Return to the pan and mix with the rest of sauce, this will help thicken things up!

Wanna-Be Grandma Shek Bok Choy

1 pound bok choy, or 3 whole baby bok choy
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1/4 cup water or chicken broth
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (you can substitute with powdered ginger, it's okay)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 to 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar, how sweet you want
A few thai peppers (optional)

Clean and cut the bok choy.

In a small bowl or cup, stir together the vegetable oil and sesame oil.

In a separate larger bowl, stir together the water, ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Set this aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper flakes and let simmer for just a minute to infuse with oil (optional). Add the bok choy stems first; stir fry for a few minutes or until the pieces start to turn a pale green. When stems are almost cooked, add the leaves; cook and stir until leaves are wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and transfer the bok choy to a shallow serving dish.

Pour the sauce into the skillet or wok, and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour over the bok choy and toss lightly to coat.