Wednesday 8 December 2010


Chinese Stir-fry Choy Sum/炒菜心[chǎo cài xīn]

My mum's recipe

Serves the whole family together with other dishes Chinese style, or serves 2 if stand alone

Preparation & Cooking Time: 30 minutes

- 1 bunch of choy sum
- 5 dried mushrooms or fresh shitake mushrooms sliced (if using dried mushrooms, must soak for 30 minutes first)
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (don't use olive oil, as olive oil cannot take high temperature exceeding 200 degree celsius)
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- pinch of Himalayan sea salt
- pinch of pepper
- Sprinkle of water
- Handful of frozen shrimps (optional)
- 1 tsp oyster sauce (optional)

1. Wash, rinse and cut choy sum into 2 inches.

2. Heat cooking oil in wok until hot and fry chopped garlic until golden brown

3. Add in mushrooms and stir-fry until fragrant.

4. Add in choysum and frozen shrimps stir-fy until cooked.

5. Add in water, oyster sauce, salt and pepper.

6. Dish out and serve immediately.

Nutritional Value:
Choy sum is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium; it is low in sodium and high in fiber, which helps to regulate the digestive system. It is low in calories.

Additional Information:
Chinese cabbage was first recorded about the 5th century AD and has never been found in the wild. It is thought to have been a spontaneous cultivated cross between pak choi and the turnip. Taken to the East Indies and Malaysia by Chinese traders and settlers in the 1400s, Chinese cabbage was found in the Chinese colony in Malacca. By 1751, European missionaries had sent seeds back home, but the vegetable was considered little more than a curiosity. Another attempt at introduction was made by a French seedsman in 1845, but the supply became exhausted and the seed was lost. In 1970, the first large-scale commercial crop was produced by the Israelis and distributed in Europe. About the same time, it was marketed in the US as the Napa Cabbage, named after the valley in California, where it was grown and now moderately popular in North America.

When I was a child, this is a very frequent dish that my mum served. Thus, when I make this dish, I think of my mum and my childhood, having home-cooked food and choy sum. It is not easy to get choy sum in Denmark, thus I don’t make it very often. I only make it when I make my once a quarter trip to the Chinatown. My mum cooked choy sum often, because she said that it is very cheap and very nutritious to eat deep green Chinese leafy vegetables. Thanks to import from Malaysia, our hinterland, choy sum is very cheap in Singapore, relatively compared to western vegetables like broccoli. Thus, even up to today, my family in Singapore cannot afford to eat broccoli as often as choy sum. It is the opposite way around for me in Denmark. I am very fortunate to have a very wise mother. She would always save the best leaves part for us and eat the stem part. She is ever so self-sacrificial, even until today.


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