Stir-fried Chinese Leaves with Dried Prawns

Peking cabbage, or Chinese leaves, was one of the most available Chinese vegetables in Chicago’s Chinatown grocers. A hardy vegetable, it is easy to grow in large quantities on small plots. Most of my Chinese-American friends remember this as a regular part of their families’ home cooking.

The leaves have a mild but distinct taste, and a sweetness that is enhanced the more they are cooked. My mother often simply stir-fried them with dried prawns, as in this recipe. I suggest soaking the dried prawns in rice wine to give them an added dimension.

Ingredients

  • 900 g (2 lb) Chinese leaves
  • 25 g (¾ oz) dried prawns
  • 4 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded spring onions

Method

Cut the Chinese leaves into 4 cm ( in) strips and blanch them in a pot of boiling salted water for about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly and set aside. Combine the prawns and rice wine in a small bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. Drain the prawns from the rice wine, retaining both.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, toss in the garlic, then the prawns and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Dump in the blanched cabbage and the rice wine and continue to stir-fry for 5 minutes. Season the mixture with the salt and pepper. Finally, toss in the spring onions and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute. Serve at once.

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