“15 cents a pile” for Bok Coy

The farmers’ markets, ji (集), in Beijing are not like the ones back home in Berkeley.  Here there are hundreds of vendors lined up for miles selling produce and almost anything else you might need for the household. I had my shoes repaired there; I picked up cotton fabric and had sheet sets made there. For thousands of years ji has meant a regular gathering for local country people to exchange their goods and purchase their needs. With the expanding city limits of Beijing, new modern residences are now mixed with old villages and supermarkets are gradually taking over the traditional ji. Luckily, there is still a ji right by my neighborhood that takes place three times a week, and I get to enjoy ganji (赶集)—rush to the market—quite often.

Walking along the river in the morning when there is a summer breeze is rather pleasant. We were fortunate to have a day like this in August in Beijing, particularly after a week of long, hot, humid, and rainy days. It was obvious that the cost and the quality of produce this week was quite different from the week before, the price had gone up and the quality had gone down. Well, things are always like this, up and down taking turns in our life. I am old enough to have a very good attitude facing it.

Someone cried “one yuan a pile” from the side on the bridge. I turned around and saw piles of bok choy lying on the ground.  The bok choy weren’t long and round with tightly closed leaves like usual, instead the farmer had a huge pile of broken leaves thrown to the side, with only the bok choy hearts put together as a pile. Oh no, this poor man’s bok choy had been badly damaged. He didn’t even bother to weigh his produce and was asking for such a humble price for the still fresh and good part of his bok choy. I felt sorry for him and brought home a bunch happily.

My refrigerator won’t fit such huge bunch of bok choy and there was no way I could kept it fresh in this hot summer weather, so a Gan Shao Bai Cai ( Dry Cooked Bok Choy) was served for lunch, here it is.

Gan Shao Bai Cai

1. Clean and dry the bok choy, throw it into the wok and cook for a few minutes until it dries out.

4. Remove to a clay pot

5. Add some sauce from the bottom of a bottle of Chinese fermented tofu (try to finish up any leftovers or sauces you have on hand or add soy sauce, sugar, and cooking wine)

6. Cook for twenty minutes and serve

My husband enjoyed this unfamiliar but tasty dish. He couldn’t tell what flavorings were in the bok choy. Of course I wouldn’t tell him the top secret of my kitchen either.

星期二的集人不多,加上今早还有点风,赶紧的去赶集买菜。菜价的确贵了,在第一个摊儿上拍了一张“顶花带刺”的照片,顺手买了几样菜,就要了二十多块。碰见小樊知道我家爱吃南方蔬菜,告诉我桥上有个人在卖茭白,快去!离开卖茭白的不远,还有一个卖大白菜的,那白菜说真的长相真是叫人看不上眼,看来是自家种的遭了雨水全坏了,掰开帮子,把剩下的堆成一小堆一小堆,一堆一块钱。看着别人都在涨价,这位菜农却卖不出个好价钱,摊子无人问津,心里很为他感到委屈,就买了它一堆白菜回家。
这一堆白菜体积真不小,冰箱肯定无法收容,夏天这菜也无法久留,立刻决定中午就把它吃了,就有了我家午餐桌上的”干烧白菜”。
我把白菜洗净透干,就放在锅里干炒除去水分,再放到砂锅里,把剩下的海会寺酱豆腐玻璃瓶底的乱七八招连汁带油一起倒下,就那么烧了个20分钟,那一大堆白菜,变成了小半锅干烧白菜,老张直说好吃,我要不点明,他可没吃出来是怎么回事。我不喜欢浪费食物,变着花样利用,这一块钱的白菜,加上倒了可惜,留着占地儿的酱汁,就成了一道美味。我喜欢一时兴起随意发挥的方式做菜,我喜欢那第一口令人惊艳的美感,我喜欢品嚐之后带给我无以名状的层次感觉,最后还希望能口舌生香回味无穷。晓军说我食不厌精,其实不是求“精”,而是喜欢往细里去琢磨,就算是“糙”的食品,细作之后还是不一样。
安妮
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About Chang Family Cooking

We are a mother and her son and daughter, all avid cooks. Jason and Aimee, son and daughter respectively, are learning to cook long distance from Annie who now lives in Beijing.
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