A deliciously simple dish from Jeremy Pang
Hong Konger culture, and that of China in general, places great emphasis on creating as little food waste as possible. But while it may help to flag up the concept of sustainability, this culture of wastelessness actually stems much more from our undying love of all things edible. Wasting food means admitting the painful thought that something delicious might end up somewhere other than in our stomachs—a punishment that perma-hungry people like myself are keen to avoid.
Here in the UK, issues surrounding food waste and food poverty are finally starting to enter the spotlight. Whether inspired by ethics or by basic greed, I have found that efforts to avoid waste can very easily result in a great meal. Case in point: recently at a ‘dai pai dong’ (licensed street stall) in Hong Kong, one of the best dishes we tried was referred to on the menu as ‘mei chum siu chow’ (leftover stir fry), the ingredients of which changed every day, depending on what needed to be cooked.
Pickled pak choi is available in Chinese stores, or you can make your own using my very simple recipe.
1 tbsp dried shrimp
2 cloves of garlic
1 large red chilli
1 stalk of pickled pak choi
300-400g Chinese garlic sprouts or wild garlic
200g cleaned squid
½ tbsp cornflour
1½ tbsp vegetable oil
For the sauce:
1 tsp chilli bean sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
½ tbsp oyster sauce
½ tbsp hoisin sauce
100ml vegetable stock
1 tsp sesame oil
Soak the dried shrimp in hot water for 15 mins, then drain in a sieve.
Meanwhile, finely slice the garlic cloves, finely chop the red chilli and dice the pickled pak choi, then set aside separately ready for the stir fry. Cut the garlic sprouts into 3cm lengths and then blanch them in boiling water in a wok for 3 mins. Drain them in a sieve, then sit them in a bowl of cold water to prevent overcooking. Lightly score the squid bodies with a crosshatch pattern, slice into pieces, place in a small bowl or ramekin, and coat with the corn flour.
Mix together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Using a round plate and thinking of it as a clock face, set up your ingredients as follows: place the garlic at 12 o’clock, followed by the red chilli, then the squid, the blanched garlic sprouts, the pickled pak choi, dried shrimp and finally the sauce. This is what I like to call the ‘wok clock’—it keeps all your ingredients well organised, ready for the quick stir frying.
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over a medium heat. When smoking hot, add the garlic and stir fry until golden brown, then add the red chilli and turn the heat up high. Once smoking hot once more, sear the squid, folding through once or twice. Keeping the wok on a high heat, add the garlic sprouts, pak choi and dried shrimp, while continuously stirring.
After about 30 secs, stop stirring and allow the wok to heat up even more. Once smoking hot again, pour in the sauce and bring to a vigorous boil. Stir fry for 1 min, then serve with steamed rice.
ALTERNATIVE: Keep the garlic, chilli, pickle pak choi and sauce, but add any other meat or veg you fancy. To go fully vegetarian, swap the oyster sauce for vegetarian stir fry sauce.
Recipe: Jeremy Pang
Images: John Holdship