oh no. i just discovered oyster sauce. i know, i know. i've got one wheel in the sand with this, but let's get past my lack of worldliness and deal with the issue on the table. seriously, i think i want to bathe in it, the oyster sauce, not my lack of worldliness. why has no one ever told me about this joy disguised as brown? i'm beginning to question how solid my friendships really are, because i'm pretty sure i've seen oyster sauce in all of my friend's refrigerators.
you know there's always a back story. here's mine:
if you don't already have tender by nigel slater, i will unfriend you on facebook, plus, you're just really missing out on one of the most worthy (cook)books ever written. its quickly become on of my five deserted island cookbooks, because i just know my deserted island experience will include cavolo nero and baby lambs so i can stew them down and eat them.
nigel slater is a little piece of heaven, this beautiful chef. he has his very own own private eden, one so prolific and colorful that he's dedicated this truly lovely ode to it. to boot, he's scared up a superhero of a photographer to drive the point home just. how. much. he really, really loves his five-a-day.
today, one of my five was inspired by tender, which brings this conversation full circle: why has no one ever told me about oyster sauce. the sheer joy of it, i say.
i must divulge, i was free with the liberties in this, chef nigel's instruction, because that's what we are supposed to be with our books. we are supposed to let ourselves be inspired by them. i don't think an author has ever written a cookbook expecting that the recipes will be followed to a T, well, except our baking gurus. don't mess around with that arena. but in cooking, there are too many variables that ask us to be flexible. for instance, perhaps you don't have oyster sauce (you poor soul), so then you could probably use something else in its stead, like, oh, i don't know, that "other" bottle of magic that's squished between your sweating pickles and whole grain mustard?
you get the picture.
be sure to have all of your ingredients ready to go with this one, it comes together really fast. this dish will feed 2 hungries with brown rice.
here's your larder:
- 4 baby bok choy, or so, you know
- 80g oyster mushrooms, you know, a fat handful
- 60g shiitake mushrooms, i know, i know, i'm being fancy because i have a scale, another fat handful
- 3 shallots
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 TB oyster sauce
- 3 TB mirin or dry sake
- 1 birdseye chili
- 1 scallion
- a piece of ginger about yay big, peeled
here's the skinny:
1) get a pot of water boiling, fitted with a steamer basket.
2) meanwhile, rinse your bok choy well. make sure you gently pull the leaves apart and rinse the base in case there is any dirt hiding.
3) slice the mushrooms in half.
3) thinly slice the shallots and garlic.
4) thinly slice the chili & half of the white part / half of the green part of your scallion.
5) heat a cast iron pan or wok with oil. i used olive, but if you have peanut, it might be more apropos. when it's smokin' hot, get the mushrooms in there and saute until browned. remove from the pan and set aside.
6) get the shallot and garlic into the same pan/wok, and saute, moving constantly so the garlic does not burn, until they begin to turn golden. When they get to this point...
7) get the sake in the pan to stop the cooking, then immediately follow with the oyster sauce. let it boil for a minute or two then kill the flame. toss the scallion and chili in the pan, and grate the nug of ginger in there too with a rasp or a ginger grater. toss the mushrooms in, and stir all of this around. if the sauce looks too thick, add a little water to the pan.
8) the water for the bok is probably boiling. steam the bok choy for about a minute and a half or so. sorry. i didn't time it.
9) throw down the baby bok on a plate and get the sauce over them pronto.
10) oh my god, so good.
by the way, you can find the recipe that inspired this dish in tender, page 200.
mangia bene, vivi felice!