We eat a lot of greens here at the Hershmossi household, and some of our favorites are Asian greens: bok choy, choy sum, yu choi, and gai lan. These can be found inexpensively at Asian markets, almost always packed in 2-lb. bags that cost well under $5. A bag of greens can serve 6-8 people as a side dish or as a component in a stir fry, or 4-6 people as the main part of a meal (by the way: greens have a ton of protein. Don’t ever listen to anyone who says you have to eat meat, dairy, or even legumes – wonderful as they are – to get your daily allotment of protein. It can totally all come from delicious, cheap greens).
photo from Flickr user World To Table
I usually stir-fry greens with some soy sauce and oyster sauce, usually like a simpler, chicken-free version of this dish. But at our last trip to Dong Hing, Sarah threw a package of Chinese sausage into our cart. Chinese sausage (lap cheong) is a smoked sausage that you can buy either loose or in vacuum sealed packages. They’re usually near the meat aisle or the produce aisle, and may or may not be refrigerated (once opened, throw ’em in the fridge). When cooked crisply, Chinese sausage has a pleasant crispy, bacony, pancetta-y texture and a nice sweet-smoky flavor.
photo from Flickr user modomatic
Tonight, while my catfish was simmering, I thew some diced sausage in a cast iron skillet and turned the heat up to high. By the time the skillet was ripping hot, the sausage had started to render out some fat and was beginning to get nicely browned. In went some trimmed and cleaned gai lan, which I seared for a minute or two before adding the liquid and simmering it to doneness. And while the catfish was delicious, the side of gai lan and sausage could have easily stood on its own.
photo from my damn hipster, Instagrammed self
Stir Fried Gai Lan with Chinese Sausage
serves 4 as a side dish and 2-3 as a main dish with rice
1.5 pounds gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
2 links (about 1-2 ounces) Chinese sausage (any type)
vegetable oil, maybe (probably not)
1 tablespoon minced or pressed ginger and/or garlic
1 tablespoon Asian chile paste (Sriracha works)
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Prepare your gai lan: trim off any woody ends, then cut into 2″-3″ segments. Rinse in cool water and dry well. Dice the Chinese sausage into 1/4 inch pieces.
Place the sausage in your largest, heaviest skillet or frying pan (preferably cast iron) and turn the heat up to high. Stir occasionally and let the sausage begin to brown as the pan heats up. After 2 or 3 minutes, your pan should be almost smoking and your sausage should be browned. You should see about 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan; if you need to, drain it or add more oil to bring it to this point.
Dump in your greens and stir occasionally for about 1 minute. You’re looking for some light browning on the stalks, which is going to bring out a great nutty flavor (don’t be afraid to let it sit there and sear for 20-30 seconds at a time). Add the garlic, ginger, and chile paste and cook, stirring almost constantly, for another minute.
Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and 1/4 cup water and cook until the stalks are done to your liking. Depending on the size of your broccoli, the thickness of your stalks, and your vegetable doneness preference, this could take anywhere from 1-5 more minutes. Feel free to add more water if it looks like it’s threatening to dry out. Serve with plenty of white or brown rice!