The Splendor of Ong Choy in Chinese Cuisine
In Chinese culinary traditions, Ong Choy meets XO Sauce in a delectable pairing. Esteemed as a prominent leafy green, Ong Choy, also recognized by its Cantonese name or as “Chinese water spinach,” beautifully complements the rich XO sauce, ensuring its distinct place in authentic Chinese dining venues.
An Overview of Chinese Greens
So, what are the usual green suspects at a Chinese restaurant? Inquiries about fresh veggies usually lead to names like Chinese broccoli, choy sum, spinach, and Shanghai bok choy.
Yet, Ong Choy has been steadily climbing the popularity ladder. Named “kōng xīn cài” in Mandarin, meaning “hollow heart vegetable”, it enjoys fondness as “kang kung” across Malaysia and parts of Southeast Asia. The dish “kang kung belacan,” which fuses water spinach with shrimp paste, is a must-have in Malaysian eateries.
And if you’re curious about other trending vegetables, stir-fried pea leaves are certainly making waves in the Chinese culinary scene.
When you inquire about these fresh greens, the server will inevitably ask how you’d like them prepared. Choices range from simple stir-frying, a touch of garlic paste, fu yu (fermented bean curd), or even a hint of fish sauce. For our family, the method often pivots on the prevailing mood and, of course, the most persuasive voice among us!
A Unique Twist with XO Sauce
One option notably absent from standard preparations is XO sauce, and for good reason. This sauce is the epitome of luxury, both in taste and price. Thus, opting to indulge in this rich sauce elevates the humble Ong Choy to an opulent delicacy, especially when you have the treat of homemade XO sauce.
- 1 pound fresh Ong Choy (water spinach)
- 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 3-6 delicate slices of ginger
- 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons XO sauce
- A pinch (⅛ teaspoon) of sugar
- ½ teaspoon of salt
Crafting Your Dish
1. Begin with the Ong Choy, trimming off the tougher stem bottoms. Retain the tender stems, a highlight due to their hollow nature which pairs well with the leafy parts, offering a delightful crunch.
2. Prioritize cleanliness. Rinse the vegetables three times for thoroughness. After the final wash, drain the excess water, ensuring the veggies are pristine. Dive into more detailed cleaning methods on our dedicated page for Chinese greens.
3. Set your wok ablaze with high heat, introducing the oil and ginger. Allow the ginger essence to meld with the oil for about 10 seconds, followed by the garlic and XO sauce.
4. With the wok nearly smoking, immerse the Ong Choy, stirring promptly. Aim to disperse the sauce and oil uniformly.
5. If the greens bunch up too much, spread them out, ensuring even distribution of the rich flavors. A sprinkle of sugar and salt adds that extra touch.
6. After a minute, consolidate the veggies at the wok’s center, maintaining high heat. This strategy superheats the wok’s sides, imparting the coveted “wok hay” flavor, reminiscent of authentic Chinese restaurants.
7. As the heat continues, you’ll notice liquid at the wok’s base, safeguarding your veggies while imparting a gentle steaming effect. Move your vegetables in a circular pattern around the wok, searing them to achieve the signature “wok hay” effect for an additional 15-30 seconds.
8. Plate promptly. For those in a lavish mood, a dollop more of XO sauce amplifies the dish’s allure.