My Very Own Shanghai Surprise!

I love trying new varieties of fruits and vegetables. So I was very excited to see a basket of green vegetables at the store labeled “Shanghai.”

They look like little baby bok choys, but who knows? Maybe they’re something completely different! Only one way to find out… bring some home and eat them!

Bok choy is a cruciferous vegetable, related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower. It’s common in many Asian cuisines, and I love it. It’s loaded with fiber, vitamins C, K, and A, and beta-carotene, and is a very good source of folate, calcium, and vitamin B6. And guess how many calories one cup of raw bok choy has? NINE.

I started my research into Shanghai and was immediately disappointed. I discovered my Shanghai surprise. And no, it wasn’t a homemade bomb or grenade, nor a film flop starring Sean Penn and Madonna.

It was that Shanghai is the variety of bok choy that’s most commonly harvested when it’s young and sold as baby bok choy. And I’ve eaten baby bok choy before. Which means I’ve most likely eaten Shanghai before.

<<insert “The Price is Right” sad trombone here.>>

So my experiment to try a new food had fizzled before it had even started. But I still had a whole big pile of baby bok choy to cook and eat! That’s a huge win!

The first step was cutting off the root ends, and giving them a spin in the salad spinner.

The stalks are curved, like celery, and I gave them a rough chop. I didn’t bother chopping the leafy parts, because I knew they would wilt when I cooked them, like spinach.

Even though I had given them a good rinse and spin, I thought I saw some dirt specks on the stalk pieces while I was chopping them, but they were just imperfections or blemishes on the stalk.

I heated a big skillet on the stove, added some olive oil, and sautéed the baby bok choy with red onion, yellow pepper, and some garlic. Well into the cooking process, I added some teriyaki sauce from a bottle. An Asian vegetable calls for an Asian sauce, right?

Then, in another skillet, I cooked two chicken and spinach sausage links I had purchased at the butcher counter. I sliced them when they were cooked.

To plate it up, I made a big pile of vegetables, and topped it with some of the sausage. A pretty simple and fast dinner!

I didn’t realize until I took a bite that the chicken and spinach sausage also had feta cheese in it, which was a little weird with the teriyaki sauce, but hey, every meal can’t be a slam dunk.

And this meal was still pretty good!

Bok choy becomes tender, and it doesn’t taste too differently from its broccoli cousin.

This probably isn’t a recipe that you’re going to bookmark or try yourself, but I still wanted to share it, because it represents how I eat a lot of the time. I buy what inspires me in the produce section, and pair it with things that I already have in the house. I make things up on the fly, keep it healthy, and have fun.

I don’t have the time or the energy to shop for or research specific recipes every day, but I’m handy enough to put together dinners I enjoy eating, and that I won’t regret later. And having an adventurous spirit in the kitchen is a surefire way to keep boredom away!

Keep it up, David!

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