"Bok choy" isn't a terribly specific name. It means "white vegetable" in Chinese, but the name refers to many different varieties of brassica chinensis-three types of which are typically available in North America: bok choy, with its dark green leaves and large white stalks; Shanghai bok choy, with its pale green spoon-like stems; and choy sum (a.k.a. yu choy), with its little yellow flowers. While all three are firmly associated with Chinese cuisine, there's no reason they can't be used in Western-style preparations, boiled, steamed, or even deep-fried. Indeed, if you tasted bok choy while blindfolded, you might find its sweet, faintly bitter flavors and crisp, leafy texture suitable for any number of soup, pasta, or side dish preparations. The following recipe treats choy sum like broccoli rabe and would be delicious alongside a grilled steak or a rich fish such as mackerel or swordfish. Or, if you prefer, go traditional and cook it the way my mom always did: Saute any of the varieties in a little oil with garlic and a spoonful of oyster sauce. Mother always knew best.
Bok Choy Sum With Garlic, Anchovy, and Orange
Ingredients: 1/2 pound choy sum, cleaned 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 large clove garlic, chopped 1 anchovy fillet, chopped pinch orange zest, grated pinch red pepper flakes 1/4 cup water 5 sections orange, cut into 1/4-inch lengths salt to taste
Method: Heat a saute pan on high. Add the olive oil, then the garlic, anchovy, orange zest, and pepper flakes, and stir. Add the choy sum, water, and salt; cover and cook until bright green and tender, about two minutes. Add the orange pieces and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Wines to complement your bok choy
Savennieres Clos du Papillon, Domaine du Closel, Chateau des Vaults 2005, Loire Valley, France
Named for its butterfly-shaped vineyard, this chenin blanc offers clean, fragrant honeysuckle perfume with a base of slate minerality, plus good acidity, which will stand up to the powerhouse flavors of garlic, anchovy, and orange in this dish. $34
Pinot Gris, Eyrie Vineyards 2007, Willamette Valley, Ore.
Look for notes of underripe peaches and orange peel followed by a creamy finish from a touch of oak. The acidic fruit from the orange and the richness of the anchovy and olive oil complement the structure of this well-balanced wine. $17