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Sautéed Baby Bok Choy with Shallot and Fish Sauce

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2017

Why This Recipe Works

When preparing baby bok choy, two main issues arise: cleaning the notoriously dirty vegetables and getting the stalks to achieve a perfectly tender-crisp texture before the leaves get too limp. Unlike mature bok choy, which is often chopped into small pieces for cooking, part of the allure of baby bok choy is showcasing its diminutive size. In this recipe, we struck a balance by cutting the bok choy in half lengthwise; this provided access to the areas where most of the dirt and grit typically hide so we could thoroughly clean them, and it helped the vegetables cook more evenly than if they were left whole. An initial stint of steaming gave the stems the head start they needed to soften slightly before sautéing. A mixture of fish sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes formed the base of a pungently spicy yet sweet sauce.

Ingredients

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2 tablespoons minced shallot
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 small heads baby bok choy (1 1/2 to 2 ounces each), halved, washed thoroughly, and spun dry

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Instructions

Serves 4

If using heads larger than 2 ounces each, quarter them instead of halving. We spin the bok choy dry after washing to avoid adding too much water to the pan.

1. Combine shallot, 1 teaspoon oil, and garlic in small bowl; set aside. Whisk 1 tablespoon water, fish sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and pepper flakes together in second small bowl; set aside.

2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add bok choy and remaining 2 tablespoons water and immediately cover. Cook, covered, shaking pan occasionally, for 2 minutes. Remove lid, toss bok choy, and then push bok choy to sides of skillet. Add shallot mixture to center and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Stir shallot mixture into bok choy and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until all water has evaporated, stems are crisp-tender, and leaves are wilted, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add fish sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and coats bok choy, about 15 seconds. Transfer to platter and serve.