Thursday, July 9, 2009
I've just been befriended on Facebook by several of my former dorm mates whom I have not seen since I left college. That brought back some memories. Now, I don't remember much from that time - just that there was a lot of sharing. Carrying a small basket of your toiletries into the shared bathroom. Rushing out of your second-floor room because you think you heard someone yell your name for a phonecall and running down to the shared phone on the ground floor. And of course there were the meals.
There was one small kitchenette in the whole block and sometimes, we got together to make our meals. I say "make", as opposed to "cook", because little to no cooking was involved. It is embarrassing to reveal, but one of our standard meals consisted instant noodles for carbohydrate, hot dogs for protein and blanched lettuce leaves for, err, nutrients. We simply boiled some water, blanched a few lettuce leaves, set it on a plate and drizzle a little oyster sauce over it.
So for dinner last night, I made a baby bok choy dish that was inspired by those dorm-life memories. It's one of those dishes that doesn't really require any recipe. This time I steamed them instead of blanching them. You'll need two or three bunches of baby bok choy. Cut of the base of the stems - you can leave some of the smaller leaves together intact. Clean them well as they can be sandy. Just immerse them in cold water and rinse a couple of times. Boil some water in a pot - I use a silicone steamer because it's easy to clean. Steam the baby bok choy for about 2 minutes or more if you want them wilted. I like mine with a little bit of crunch in them. Then lay them out on a plate. Mix a teaspoon of oyster sauce with 2 teaspoons of water and drizzle it over the bok choy. Add a few drops of sesame oil and garnish with crispy fried shallots (or onions)*. Serves 3 or 4. It's a simple dish that complements a meal with rich or spicy dishes.
*I usually make a batch of fried shallots and store, but you can buy them in any Indian or Middle Eastern grocery store. They add flavor and texture to many Singapore dishes.