My Chinese Greens Stir-fry is made with Chinese mustard greens and strips of aburaage. Instead of adding garlic and ginger, which is used in many Chinese stir-fry dishes, I used a very small amount of dashi-based seasoning. This is what gives this dish a more authentic Japanese flavour.
Today’s dish is very quick to cook just like most stir-fry dishes. It is a perfect side dish when you need one more item to compete your meal. Chinese greens and tofu products are a good match too.
I just realised that I already posted a similar dish, Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep-fried Tofu. The ingredients used in this recipe and today’s recipe are easily interchangeable.
What is in My Chinese Greens Stir-fry
The main ingredient is Chinese mustard greens, but I added sliced aburaage pieces to give a different dimension to the flavour and texture. Aburaage also goes well with the dashi-based flavour.
- A bunch of Chinese mustard greens (gai choy, 芥菜 )
- 2 sheets of aburaage, cut into 1cm/⅜” wide strips.
- Shiro dashi
- Light soy sauce or normal soy sauce
In Japan, you can buy a bottle of vegetarian shiro dashi for vegetarian dishes, but not in Sydney. If you can find it, use vegetarian shiro dashi to make today’s dish vegetarian.
Alternatively, you can replace shiro dashi and soy sauce with konbu tsuyu (昆布つゆ), which is a vegetarian version of condensed Japanese noodle soup base.
The konbu tsuyu that I bought from the Asian grocery store close by (photo below) was very sweet and I needed to change the proportion of shiro dashi and soy sauce to make it a similar taste. I included the details of how to do this in the notes section of the recipe card.
How to Make My Chinese Greens Stir-fry
Stir-fry is fundamentally a three-step cooking process – chop, cook, and season. Today’s stir-fry is no exception.
- Cut the mustard green leaves into 5-7cm/2-2¾” long pieces. Separate the thick stalk portions from the soft leaf portions.
- Stir-fry the stalk pieces first, then add the leaves.
- When the leaves start wilting, add aburaage strips.
- When the mustard leaves are all wilted, turn the heat off.
- Add shiro dashi and soy sauce, then mix quickly.
I gave a wide range of the length you need to chop the mustard greens to because it really doesn’t matter much as long as they are not too short or too long.
Each stem of Chinese mustard greens is short but often thick. Each leaf grows out of it in a staggered way from the bottom of the stem.
When preparing the Chinese mustard leaves, I remove the leaves off the stems, leaving the inner most short leaf attached to the stem.
The seasoning evaporates quickly because of the residual heat of the pan. So, you need to mix very fast to evenly spread the flavour over the vegetables.
Chinese Mustard Greens Stir-fry is a quick and easy side dish, and very tasty. It tastes good even if the dish is not hot, which makes it perfect for a bento box.
Chinese Greens Stir-fry
- 250g/8.9oz Chinese mustard greens (gai choy, note 1)
- 2 sheets aburaage
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 tsp shiro dashi (note 2)
- 1 tsp light soy sauce (or normal soy sauce)
- Remove the leaves from each stem of the Chinese mustard greens, leaving the innermost small leaf attached to the short stem. If the stem is thick, halve it vertically.
- Cut each leaf into 5-7cm/2-2¾" long, grouping the thin leaf portions and the thick stalk portions separately.
- Pour 2 cups of boiling water over aburaage to remove excess oil, then squeeze water out. Cut aburaage crosswise into 1cm/⅜" wide strips.
- Add oil to a frying pan over high heat and stir-fry the stalks of the Chinese mustard greens for about 1 minute until the outside of the leaves starts browning.
- Add the leaves to the pan and continue to stir-fry until about half of the leaves start wilting.
- Add aburaage strips to the pan and stir.
- When all the leaves are wilted, turn the heat off.
- Add shiro dashi and soy sauce to the pan and mix well quickly (note 3).
- Serve in a large plate to share or individually.
A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.
Chinese Greens Stir-fry is such a light dish that it can go with almost anything. But it is a stir-fry and picking a main dish with minimal oil would suit better. I think that Steamed Fish in Sake is perfect for it, but if you would like to avoid alcohol to steam, you can serve Shinshūmushi.
I picked a simmered dish for Side dish 2 to add a different flavour to the meal.
- Main: Sakamushi Fish (Steamed Fish in Sake) – or Shinshūmushi (Steamed fish covered with buckwheat noodles).
- Side dish 1: Chinese Greens Stir-fry – today’s recipe.
- Side dish 2: Hijiki Seaweed Salad (Hijiki no Nimono) – or other simmered dish that can be made ahead, e.g., Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon (Dried Shredded Daikon).
- Soup: Miso Soup of your choice from Miso Soup Ingredient Combinations or your favourite ingredients.
- Rice: Cooked Rice.
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