Choy to the WorldOctober 31, 2010
Forgive me for that groan-worthy post title; I had no other choyce. Okay, that’s the last one, I promise.
So what’s got me so excited that I’m making all these horrible puns? Well, although I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, at the local farmers’ market yesterday I experienced love at first sight… with a vegetable. Sound crazy? Take a look yourself:
Okay, so maybe I still sound crazy. But as a vegetarian, I often find myself feeling a strange aesthetic appreciation for the food I eat, one that I don’t think an omnivore shares as often. Sure, when I was still a meat-eating omni, there were times when I would look at some prepared meat dish and be awed at its apparent tastiness. But I never remember being awed by its beauty, much less by the beauty of some raw hunk of meat. Vegetables, on the other hand, can be quite awe inspiring even right from the field, and instill a sort of reverence for the pure majesty of nature’s inner workings (just consider the romanesco cauliflower, for instance). And that’s more or less what I felt when looked at the above green. (Yep, I probably still sound crazy.)
Of course, I didn’t even know yet what this green was, as I had never seen it before. When I asked the farmer, he told me it was tok choy, a relative of bok choy with a very similar taste (at least I think he said “tok” choy; I’ve been having trouble finding any Google confirmation on what exactly this green is, except for this one other food blog that also calls it “tok” choy). I was eager to try it (and also to have the chance to look at it some more at home), so I picked up this big bunch, and started to get thinking about how I could best serve it up.
Thankfully, there was another stand at the market selling large, cheap bags of bok choy, so I picked up one of those as well, figuring that it would go well with its vegetable cousin.
When I got back home, I more or less knew how I was going to cook up my first taste of tok choy: a wonderful and simple preparation method for bok choy I learned from a friend, which involves simply sauteing the greens with garlic for a little bit, and then tossing everything with some sesame oil, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. It’s easy, quick, and incredibly delicious—I think because it just really lets the flavors of the choy shine through and do most of the work. And so I did just that, mixing bok and tok choy about half and half. The result was this handsome plate:
And once again, closer up:
Ah, it was wonderful. The tok choy didn’t really taste much different than the bok choy, but its leaves obviously have a different shape, which made them cook a little differently, providing a nice contrast with the bok choy. A really excellent meal all around.
Finally, before I leave, I have to share one other treasure I picked up from the farmers’ market yesterday—this loaf of Irish Soda Bread:
A couple genuine (at least judging by their accents) Irish bakers have a little baked goods stand at the market, and this week I decided to get a loaf of their Irish soda bread. And let me tell you: this is probably the best Irish soda bread I’ve ever tasted, and definitely near the top of my all-time favorite breads I’ve ever tasted list. So if you’re in Toronto, go to the Wychwood Barn farmers’ market on Saturday morning and pick yourself up a loaf of this bread—you won’t be disappointed (until you eat it all and have none left, that is). And you might as well pick up some tok choy while you’re there as well.
Until we eat again,