Saturday, March 2, 2013
Technique Tips: Stir-Frying Narrow, Stalky Vegetables
In my last post, I talked about stir-frying vegetables simply. While the tip I'm discussing in this post applies to all vegetables (and stir-frying in general), it becomes even more important when you're stir-frying narrow, stalky vegetables like watercress, the above-pictured Chinese chives (a.k.a. garlic chives), or kong xin cai. Basically, you'll want to remove any excess water from the surfaces of your vegetables so that you don't end up simmering the vegetables rather than stir-frying. And, after washing vegetables, they will have excess water on them, even after draining in a colander. (Though, certainly, a little water can be nice in cooking through the nooks and crannies of vegetables like bok choy and broccoli.)
This becomes more important for narrow, stalky vegetables because they've got so much more surface area between the stalks and leaves to hold on to excess water, making the colander draining less effective. With all the extra water running down while you stir-fry, your veggies will end up swimming in a soup. For this reason, it can be really handy to have a salad spinner to quickly get rid of all the excess water before stir-frying. I use this one. It's a good size, works well, and is collapsible.
[addendum:] Ah, I forgot to add that the simple stir-fry works great with garlic chives, too. Though I tossed in a couple slices of ginger, as well, which was great. Watercress works pretty well, too, but it's slight bitterness asks for a bit of other flavoring (as with bok choy, though to a lesser extent).