A Recipe from the Garden-Stir-fried Chinese Greens

No meal in our home, whether it was a simple lunch or an afternoon snack, ever went without Chinese greens. My mother even managed to have them during hard Chicago winters. She would buy them when they were cheap in the summer and dry them on the iron fire escape, like bits of laundry. Unfortunately, living in an urban environment, we didn’t have the luxury of a garden, as did my more fortunate friend Steve Wong. Living in Sacramento, California, where there was plenty of sunshine, his family were able to grow their greens. He remembers how delicious and earthy the vegetables smelled when his mother plucked them from the garden and simply stir-fried them in the same manner my mother used to prepare them. It is remarkable how two Chinese-Americans from such distant parts of the country still relish the memory of these modest stir-fried Chinese greens – cooked precisely the same way.

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  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 675 g ( lb) Chinese greens, such as bok choy or Chinese leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese Chicken Stock, store-bought fresh stock or water


Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the two oils and, when they are very hot and slightly smoking, toss in the garlic and salt. Stir-fry the mixture for 15 seconds, then quickly throw in the Chinese greens. Stir-fry for 3–4 minutes, until the greens have wilted a little. Then pour in the chicken stock or water and continue to stir-fry for a few more minutes, until the greens are done but still slightly crisp.