I’ve heard from several readers that you are interested in recipe tips, ideas for dishes, and instructions on how to best use new and interesting ingredients. Ask and you shall receive! For my first post about food, I thought I’d focus on one of my favorites: bok choy.
I like to call it the gateway vegetable for folks trying to get more leafy greens into their diets. With its soft, silky leaves and crunchy white stalks, the texture contrast is stellar in dishes. The taste is a great mix of sweet and bitter. It is one of the healthiest vegetables and part of the cruciferous family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale), which is known for ridding the body of potential toxins – an added bonus as we head into the cold and flu season.
If you’ve joined us at Stomping Ground for dinner, you hopefully have tried – and enjoyed – our bok choy. We slice the heads down the center, apply a generous amount of salt and olive oil to the cut side, and grill them cut side down. You could do this easily at home in a hot cast iron skillet without any fat added to the pan and they would cook beautifully. The trick to developing their flavor when grilling or cooking in a cast iron skillet is to really char them. Cook the leaves until they dry out and crack. You want them to look tragic and ruined. After removing them from the pan or grill, sprinkle with a bit more salt and dig in. Prepared in this fashion, they taste great with creamy sauces, like hummus, tatziki, ranch, anything! Remember, they may look like they’re in bad shape, but the taste will be incredible. Note to self: a future post must focus on why you should burn your vegetables!
Bok Choy also pan steams beautifully (as do other sturdy greens). Preparing them in this fashion prevents waterlog. Put a nice glug of olive oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add one clove of garlic and toast until it is soft and nicely golden brown – DO NOT BURN. It should be the color of coffee with cream, not black coffee. Arrange the bok choy in an even layer — it’s okay if the pan is crowded. Season with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and add about 1/4 cup of water and put the lid on right away. Steam until tender, adding more water in 1/4 cup increments until soft. The entire process shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes. When it is cooked, taste a small piece. Add a bit more salt if necessary and squeeze a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar on top. Serve warm or at room temperature with Parmesan or aged cheddar shaved on top.
Sliced up raw, bok choy makes amazing coleslaw.
Select bok choy with vibrant white stems and leaves without bruises. If the stems seem soft or rubbery near the root, pass on that bundle. When you get it home, separate the stems in the same fashion as celery and be sure to clean all of the dirt caught near the base. Wrap in paper towels and keep in your crisper for 3 to 5 days.
Other ingredients that love bok choy:
Mushrooms Sauté any type of mushroom and serve on top of the bok choy.
Bacon Sauté your bok choy in bacon fat for a killer side dish.
Soy Sauce & Sesame Oil Pour a glug on top before or after cooking.
Ginger & Garlic Add to your cooking oil or add raw after cooking.
I would love to see your dishes! Send me pics of your masterpiece on Instagram (@stompdelray) with the hashtag #bokchoyathome
Nicole’s cooking style is rooted in, but not limited to, her love of southern biscuits and her diverse culinary upbringing. A military brat, she spent her childhood in the Chicago suburbs enjoying her great-grandmother Mae’s Lithuanian cooking. As a tween, she moved to Paulding County, Ga. where she begrudgingly fell in love with the charmingly perplex small towns of the Deep South. She fondly remembers grubbing on Martin’s biscuits, late-night Waffle House debauchery and cooking with her family.
After graduating from the University of Georgia, Nicole started a marketing career at an art nonprofit in Atlanta. At 25 years old, she became the youngest executive at the local Atlanta NPR affiliate.
Chasing her dreams, she moved to Alexandria, Va. where she took a short post in the Whole Foods marketing department. Realizing that cooking had been her true love all along, she began night courses at L’Academie de Cuisine. She completed her apprenticeship at Blue Duck Tavern where she was promoted to a line cook after graduation. From there, Nicole worked as a private chef for busy Washington D.C. executives and their families.
As grown-ups tend to do, Nicole realized something about her childhood — the best parts were enjoying small town communities, cooking with her great-grandmother and sharing meals with family and friends. She opened Stomping Ground to build a safe and welcoming community around yummy, handmade food from local sources. As her first foray running her own kitchen, she has shamelessly hired better, smarter cooks to fill her kitchen and your bellies. Her great-grandmother’s recipes often appear on the Stomping Ground menu without advertisement and, no, she won’t tell you the secret ingredients.
Nicole lives in Del Ray and won’t shut up about how much she loves living there.
If you wander down Del Ray’s, “The Avenue,” you won’t miss the farm-red building with a rustic fence bordering the patio. Stomping Ground opened two years ago and quickly became popular for its made-from-scratch biscuits and its neighborhood vibe. On weekends, excited guests line up before Stomping Ground opens hoping to be the first to get a just-out-of-the-oven biscuit or a fresh salad. Stomping Ground is mostly known for its fast casual breakfast and lunch but on Thursdays and Fridays they provide a full dinner service after 5:00pm. All meals are built from local, seasonal food that is organic whenever possible.
2309 Mt Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301