Sunday, January 22, 2012

Broccoli Chop Suey

I remember when George H. W. Bush wreaked havoc on broccoli farmers with the unguided missile that was his tongue (“I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!”). To teach him a lesson, the broccoli farmers of America dumped 20,000 pounds on the doorstep of the White House. The President may not have eaten any broccoli - but he did have to eat a little crow.

Broccoli? Or Presidential Kryptonite? You decide!
If you aren’t the President of the United States, the most important thing to remember about this dish is that the broccoli should not be overcooked. If you are the President of the United States, I suspect you’ve got more important things to worry about. Overcook broccoli, and it’s game over because you’ll lose its nutrients, crunch, flavor, and bright green color. I dare say that even a Broccoli Boycotter like the 41st President would enjoy this Chinese dish! 
Broccoli Chop Suey:
To Prepare Vegetables and Meat: 
Boiling water, as required
1-½ c. broccoli, cut into flowerets, stems removed (see Note)
2 tbsp. peanut oil, divided (see Further Note)
Small knob of ginger root, peeled and left whole
1 whole garlic clove, peeled
1 stalk celery, sliced on a fine, sharp diagonal
1 small cooking onion, quartered and slivered
1 small green pepper, angle-cut in bite-sized chunks
½ 8-oz. (227 mL) can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
6 canned water chestnuts, sliced and drained
Chinese-style barbecued pork, as needed, or 5 angle-sliced Chinese sausages 
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tbsp. cooking sherry or rice wine vinegar
Cornstarch paste (3 tbsp. cornstarch or tapioca starch mixed with 2 tsp. dark soy sauce, 1 tsp. oyster sauce, and sufficient water to make a paste)
Assemble all ingredients, preparing vegetables and seasoning mixture (below) in advance of cooking. I recommend placing the sliced and chunked vegetables on a large platter or tray, keeping everything near your wok. Once you start cooking, you’ll need to move quickly! Your wok or skillet should have a lid. Please read the instructions through before you start this recipe.
Pour at least 1 c. boiling water over broccoli; let sit 3 min. Drain broccoli, reserving water. Chill broccoli in ice water bath to stop cooking process. Drain, blot dry, and lay on platter or tray until needed. In wok or deep skillet, heat 1 tbsp. oil until sizzling. Add ginger and garlic to oil. Remove from wok a few seconds later, discarding when browned. 
Add remaining oil to wok, heating on high. Add and stir-fry the following ingredients in the order and times given: Celery (30 sec.), onion (60 sec.), broccoli (60 sec.), seasoning mixture below (60 sec.), green pepper (60 sec.), bamboo shoots (10 sec.), water chestnuts (60 sec.), and barbecued pork or Chinese sausage, just to heat through. 
Combine oyster sauce with 1 c. reserved broccoli water. Pour around edge of wok. (Liquids of any sizable quantity should always be added around the edge of the wok, allowing them to heat quickly. Do not pour liquids into the center of the food). Cover and cook 1 min. on high heat. Remove lid and stir in cooking wine. Make a “well” in the center of the dish, adding cornstarch paste a little at a time until dish reaches desired consistency. 

To Prepare Seasoning Mixture: 

1 tsp. salt
½  tsp. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. hoisin sauce

Combine in small bowl. Set aside. 
Note: Reserve thicker, woodier broccoli stems for future use in making stock (see my Jan. 19, 2012 blog on How to Make Soup Stock). Peel and slice the more tender stems and add to Chop Suey
Further Note: Once again, I recommend using peanut oil for Chinese wok cookery because of its ability to withstand high cooking temperatures without breaking down. As with any oil heated to a high temperature, there’s always the potential for fire. Be extra careful.

Prepare vegetables in advance of cooking
Work quickly: Fry celery, onions ...
Add green pepper, par-boiled broccoli ...
Slice in a few Chinese sausages or BBQ'd pork
Thicken slightly, at the end of cooking
A closer view of a highly nutritious dish!

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