This stir-fry, seasoned with oyster sauce and garlic is one of my favorite preparations of dark leafy greens. Redolent of garlic and toasted sesame oil, this quick vegetable side comes together in less than five minutes, yet it’s loaded with flavor.
The trick is to season it with oyster sauce, which is a sauce sold in bottles, made from oyster extracts, salt and sugar giving it a balanced umami rich taste that will really make any simple green shine. The sugar in oyster sauce not only helps balance out the salt, it also helps temper the bitterness of the leaves, making them enjoyable even for those who don’t normally go for greens. A good oyster sauce should only contain oyster extracts, sugar, salt and possibly a thickener, so read the label and try and avoid ones that include artificial colors, MSG, and preservatives. I’ve had luck with a few Thai brands.
While I used Tatsoi for making this recipe, this preparation will work with just about any Chinese leafy green such as bok choy, on choy (a.k.a. water spinach), guy choy, and pea sprouts. If the leaves are big, just chop them up before stir-frying.
While this is an easy dish that anyone can pull off successfully there are a couple areas that need attention. The first is that it’s important to remove any excess water from the leaves after washing, otherwise your stir-fry will end up watery and soggy. The second is to not brown the garlic initially. You want it to be fragrant, but if you brown it before adding the greens it will burn while your greens are cooked through. Lastly, using a spatula to press down on the leaves right after you add them is a good way to wilt them quickly without scattering them all over your cooktop.
Tatsoi with Oyster Sauce
- 7 ounces (200 grams) Tatsoi
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- .25 ounces (7 grams, 1 large clove) garlic, sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Separate the individual leaves and discard any tough parts of the core, slicing up the rest of the stem. Wash thoroughly and run through a salad spinner to dry.
- Add the sesame oil and sliced garlic to a frying pan and fry over medium-high heat until fragrant (but not browned).
- Add the tatsoi and stir-fry until the leaves are wilted. It will help reduce the volume of leaves if you use a spatula to press down on them until they wilt.
- Add the oyster sauce and stir fry until the stems have cooked through and there is no liquid left in the pan.
- Serve immediately, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.
Yield: 2 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.