A bowl of salad greens looks like a lot of veggies but is actually more volume than substance. If you want to add more greens to your diet, stir-frying veggies is the best way because the quick frying wilts the veggies (and destroys the germs and bacteria) and you are tricked into eating more of it. Despite growing up eating stir-fried greens, I never tire of it. Stir-fried greens are sweet, refreshing, delicious and fast to cook. The reason why most of us can't fry a good plate of greens is because most home stoves do not heat up enough to give the greens that wok hei or 'breath of the wok' flavor and taste. Just as pizzas need an oven that can go up to at least 400 C, if the burners in a Chinese restaurant do not burn intensely enough for flames to dance inside and outside of the wok, the restaurant is not considered authentic and the stir-fries will never have that restaurant flavor. At home, the only way to get some of that wok hei is to smoke the wok up as high as it can go before adding the veg and to cook in small portions so that the heat is intense all through the frying process.
Some of the best fried greens are served by dingy coffee shop restaurants where burners are so intense that you can hear them roaring. The burners can go from low to super high within seconds, allowing the cook to adjust the heat easily. I read somewhere that western chefs usually judge a new apprentice by his/her omelettes (or is it scrambled eggs). IMO, Chinese chefs and cooks should be tested by their plate of fried greens. A great plate of stir-fried greens looks simple yet is not. To fry a great plate of greens, you need experience, judgement, speed and skills without which all the heat won't help a hoot.
This recipe uses Chinese wine to add flavor to an otherwise delicate dish so save your best Chinese rice wine for frying your greens. I recommend Chinese rice wine over Shao Xin wine because it is sweet and not as strongly flavored. Shao Xin wine can overpower the delicate flavor of most greens but it is really up to you which you prefer. The cornstarch is to make the sauce smooth but not thick. Served piping hot, this simplest of dishes can be utterly satisfying.
Wine-Flavored Stir-fried Greens
200 gm Taiwan bak choy or any other Chinese greens
1 cloves t garlic, chopped or whole or in slivers
2 T Chinese rice wine
1/8 t salt (or to taste)
2 T veg oil (restaurants add more, about 3 T*)
1/2 t cornstarch
* be careful about adding too much liquid if your burner doesn't give intense heat because then the liquid will not evaporate fast enough and the veg will taste more boiled than fried.
1. Wash the bak choy and cut into smaller, even-sized bite-size pieces so that they cook faster.
2. Heat up a wok, add the oil. When oil is hot, add the garlic , stir 3 seconds. At this point, crank the heat up as much as it can go and add the cornstarch (NO water added) into the oil and then add the bak choy. All that action flows so that the garlic and cornstarch do not burn. Stir, flip and turn the veg. Add the salt, then the wine, stir, and cover the veg with the lid of the wok. Count to 20 (more if the your burner isn't strong), remove the lid and stir to get the veg to cook evenly. Cover again and count to 20, remove the lid and dish up. Cook the veg longer if that's how you like them.
If you want the savory-sweet taste of restaurant fried greens, shake a dash of msg or a pinch of chicken granules into the veg along with the salt.