My body tells me when I need veggies. And I listen to my body. Certainly for my work I try to have an understanding of basic nutrition; ya know, the simple stuff like what vitamins and minerals are present in common vegetables and grains and meats. For the people I cater to I need to have a modicum of nutritional understanding to help create balanced diets and meals and not sound like a fool while I do. But in my own life I try to have a sensible and more intuitive approach to eating.
I really try to pay attention to my body’s needs, at least when it comes to the basics. Sometimes I crave fish and I think maybe that implies low levels of fatty acids and good cholesterol. Likewise when I get a hankering for oysters maybe I need a dose of magnesium. Sometimes I feel an urge for hot chicken broth or broccoli or salad or artichokes or spinach and I try to identify the need. I’m not sure what specifically my body requires when I crave gailan (Chinese broccoli) but it’s rich in all kinds of things vital to life — iron, dietary fiber, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin A, folic acid, zinc, magnesium, and calcium. Not only that but it tastes great — like broccoli but more so: richer, deeper, slightly more bitter, and sweeter. It’s an all-around winner for taste and nutrients.
To cook it I first wash it well and dry it. I cut off the leafy top halves and I shave off some of the exterior of the dense, thicker bottom halves with a veggie peeler. I like to stir-fry it with garlic and ginger and finish it with Chinese oyster sauce (sub with hoisin sauce or black bean sauce to make it vegan). Of course this is my favorite method, but you can do lots of things with it; just treat it as you would regular broccoli.
For the gailan in this pic I used about a half pound, which I cleaned as described above. I sliced two large cloves of garlic and minced fresh ginger until I had about one big rounded tablespoon. I heated up some veggie oil in a very hot wok (over high heat) until it was just barely smoking. I threw in the garlic and ginger and stirred it around. I tossed in the gailan and added some cracked black pepper and a large pinch of kosher salt. I stir-fried the veggie for about 2 minutes, moving it around frequently. I added two tablespoons of xao xing (Chinese cooking wine, although cheap sherry or white wine will do) and let that steam the veggie. When the liquid was nearly evaporated I added a big dollop (maybe one and a half tablespoons) of Lee Kum Kee brand Oyster Sauce. I killed the heat and stirred to make sure the gailan was fully coated with the sauce. I checked for seasoning and added a bit more pepper. It was perfect!
I served it with some steamed broken jasmine rice and some hoisin-glazed roasted salmon. After dinner my body felt rejuvenated, like I’d given it a big boost of nutrients. And it was delicious. And way better than a multi-vitamin.