Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Beautiful Bok Choi

On Saturday, a group of us went to the Coppell Farmers' market. A bitterly cold day - the brave folks selling their wares were all shivering - but it seemed like good turnout. I certainly hope so for all who make a living producing really wholesome ingredients and foods. One stop was at my good friend Marie Tedei's stall. She had a couple of varieties of bok choi, some mixed salad leaves and arugula. All picked the day before, so lovely and fresh. I bought some bok choi and then the question, what to do with it? I wanted to preserve its wonderful bitterness and somehow turn it into the star of an evening dinner with Madame.
I have also been watching Heston Blumental's series "how to cook like Heston" on the UK's Channel 4. One episode was dedicated to eggs. I wanted to try his method of egg poaching. Now Chef Blumental may be able to put his hand up a chicken to get the freshest possible eggs. I haven't found any chickens close enough, so am having to rely on local producers for eggs of indeterminate age.
In the fridge there is (was!) some guanciale, so I could see the makings of a dish of lightly braised bok choi with guanciale and a couple of poached eggs nestling on top.
So that's what we had.
3 oz guanciale cut into lardons
1 head bok choi - white and green parts cut into large bite sized pieces, thoroughly rinsed
4 large eggs
A few drops of hot sauce
A few drops of vinegar - I used sherry vinegar
Pepper (and maybe salt - depends on the salitiness of the guanciale) to taste
A few croutons
Gently cook the guanciale in a large skillet until all the fat has rendered and the meat has become firm and slightly crisp. It goes not crisp up like bacon does. Meanwhile rinse and drain the bok choi, and cut into bite sized pieces. No need to dry thoroughly. Put a deep pot of water onto the stove, side a plate into the bottom to protect the eggs from the heat of the pan and heat to a gentle simmer (180F or so).
With about 5 minutes to go before you want to serve the dish, drain all of the fat from the skillet and then put the bok choi in, stir, add a few drops of hot sauce and cover. Poach the eggs in the simmering liquid - about 4 minutes - until the whites are firm, but the yolks are still runny.
When the bok choi is cooked add the vinegar, toss and then spoon some in a mound inside a warmed bowl, taking care to drain it first. Add a few croutons and top with the poached eggs. Grind a little pepper and serve immediately. The accompanying wine was a Mulderbosh 2010 Chenin Blanc.

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