This dish, with a slightly oriental touch both in its method of cooking and in its flavours, is good enough to serve on its own as a starter.
Separate the broccoli into florets and stalks. Peel the stalks and slice them on the diagonal to give a large cooking surface. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil with the sesame oil and salt. Drop in the broccoli, bring it back to the boil and boil for 30 seconds. Drain quickly and plunge the broccoli into chilled water, or at least rinse it well under running cold water to cool it quickly.
Heat the water or stock with the soy sauce and vinegar in a wok or large frying pan. Add the broccoli, cover, and steam until just tender. Remove the broccoli, and keep it warm over hot water, leaving the cooking juices in the wok or frying pan. Add the tomato and quickly reduce to 2–3 tablespoons. Off the heat, add the cubes of butter, one at a time, and whisk into the sauce until it emulsifies and thickens. Season with a little white pepper. (Extra salt should not be required because of the salt in the soy sauce.) Serve the sauce and broccoli separately or together, as you wish.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.