I had a friend from India who I used to work with and one day, she asked me how Chinese people stay so slim. I said I didn’t know. She said she was surprised at how Chinese people managed to stay thin when all we ate was fried food like Sweet and Sour Chicken, and Egg Rolls. I laughed and told her that was the American version of Chinese food and that I didn’t know any Chinese people who cook that type of food at home much less eat it at a restaurant.
So in recognition of real Chinese food, I thought I would share a favorite Chinese recipe of mine that I got from my mom. When you want a freakishly good Chinese meal, you go to my mom. She can put a bunch of seemingly disparate ingredients together and 95% of the time end up with a fantastic meal.
Without further adieu, I give you Shanghai style Chinese Rice Cakes.
1 bag of Chinese Rice Cakes (if frozen, empty bag into a big bowl and thaw in water)
1 large head of Chinese Mustard Greens (buy at the Asian Market)
1/4 bag of Baby Bok Choy
1/2 cup Fresh bamboo
1 – 2 shiitake Mushrooms
Some type of meat: chicken, beef, or pork – 1/2 lb
2 cloves Garlic
1/2 Tablespoon Ginger
Chinese Rice Wine
Sriracha Hot Sauce (Bright red sauce with a green cap)
Prepare the mustard greens 2 days in advance by first cleaning them thoroughly. Spread open a leaf, layer it on the bottom of a large container, sprinkle liberal amounts of kosher salt on the mustard green. Repeat the process until no leaves are left. This step tenderizes and breaks down the mustard greens. Cover and place in refrigerator at least 2 days in advance.
Mince both the garlic and ginger and set aside. Slice the meat into 1/4 strips. Marinate meat with all of the ginger and garlic, add a 1 tablespoon of rice wine and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce. You can do this the night before.
Squeeze the mustard greens of any liquid (handful at a time). Chop the greens into small pieces. Set aside.
Clean bok choy, rough cut and include white stems. Set aside.
Julienne fresh bamboo. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in the wok/saute pan over high heat. Add meat, cook for 3 – 4 minutes max. Stir constantly. Transfer meat to a separate bowl.
Return wok/pan to heat, lower heat to medium high heat. Add mustard greens. Stir frequently, cook for approximately 10 minutes or until greens are cooked. Add 1/4 cup of water during the cooking process as necessary. You don’t want leaves to dry out. After 10 minutes (regardless if leaves are cooked or not) add bamboo and shiitakes. Stir together. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add bok choy. Keep stirring, cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Add meat back in and place rice cakes on top (if thawing, make sure to strain all the water out from the rice cakes). Cover the wok/pan.
This will steam the rice cakes and soften them. Check the consistency of the rice cakes after 5 minutes. Should be soft and chewy. Cook longer if needed. Once cooked, mix all ingredients together in pan. Add soy sauce to taste.
For the brave ones out there, add Sriracha (makes everything taste 100x better). Promise.
Also – the key to Chinese cooking, at least with this dish, is that you can be flexible with the ingredients. Add more/less depending on what you like.