Anyone who has eaten with me understands that I generally view vegetables the same way one would dentist appointments or exercise — they’re a necessary evil.
This has long held true, and is something that has exasperated my mother since I was a child. Back then, once it was clear that threats and bribery had absolutely no power in persuading me to eat any greens, my mother wisely appealed to a different side of me: The one that (perhaps not so) secretly enjoys the idea of a good conquest.
Think of broccoli as a little tree, she said.
And so, at the dinner table, I began to imagine myself as a giant, ripping out whole trees from the ground and snarfing down clumps of leaves, then branches, before finally devouring their trunks. Destruction, obliteration — all adrenaline-pumping stuff that finally got me to clean those plates of greens.
Perhaps this could have been seen as an early sign that I might grow up to be a serial killer but, no matter. I was eating vegetables. And that was good.
I was thinking of this story when my Let’s Lunch crew decided on doing “a dish that made me eat vegetables” for this month’s virtual lunch date toasting Joe Yonan’s new cookbook “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook,” which hit bookstores this week. Congrats, Joe!
What should I cook up? Why, broccoli, of course …
My mother’s broccoli was generally straightforward — stir-fried with garlic was usually the way to go. I love it that way, too — the simplicity of it is the perfect refreshing foil for the heavy Chinese stews or spicy stir-fries that often fill out the rest of our meal.
In my Brooklyn kitchen however, I’ve recently been experimenting with a veggie stir-fry that conjures a dish I’ve been missing — a three-egg vegetable stir-fry in which the greens come swimming in a rich gravy pock-marked with chunks of salted egg, century egg and streaks of beaten chicken eggs. It’s sheer comfort food for me — I often crave the different levels of umami in it from the three kinds of eggs.
Since I don’t regularly keep century or salted eggs in my own kitchen, I’ve been whipping up a one-egg stir-fry that’s pretty simple. You stir-fry garlic and ginger with preserved radishes (if you happen to have it on hand), then toss in the veggies and fry that up, add broth and miso for more flavor and drizzle beaten eggs into the mixture right at the end.
It’s so easy and quick — and packed with such intense flavor — that this carnivore doesn’t even miss the meat when digging into it. And the gravy is sheer heaven poured over hot white rice.
I’ve tried it with spinach, which is not bad, but it’s really better with a more sturdy vegetable like broccoli — which, of course, has the added plus of making me feel like a plundering giant at my dinner table.
Ah … my mother would be proud.
Don’t forget to check out other Let’s Lunchers’ vegetable dishes below! And if you’d like to join Let’s Lunch, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #Letslunch — or, post a comment below.
Annabelle‘s Farmer’s Market Gazpacho at Glass of Fancy
Eleanor‘s Green Beans Two Ways at Wok Star
Grace‘s Vegetable Tempura at HapaMama
Jill‘s Fusilli with Corn Sauce at Eating My Words
Joe‘s Guaca-Chi at Joe Yonan
Linda‘s Chocolate-Zucchini Twinkies at Free Range Cookies
Linda‘s Gateway Brussels Sprouts at Spicebox Travels
Lisa‘s Totally “Free” Veggie Soup at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Lucy‘s Roasted Okra Chips at A Cook and Her Books
Pat‘s Umami-Laden Green Beans at The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook
Sonja‘s Ukrainian Borscht at Foodnutzz
Vivian‘s Kangkong (Water Spinach) with Fermented Beancurd, Chili and Garlic at Vivian Pei
Egg-Drop Broccoli in Ginger-Miso Gravy
- Just under 1 lb broccoli crowns
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- Scant 1 TB minced ginger
- 2 TB chye poh, or preserved radish (look for this at Asian grocers — it comes in a bag), optional
- 1 large shallot (or 2 small), minced
- 1.5 cups vegetable (or other) stock (I used seafood stock, since that was what I had in my fridge)
- 1 TB miso paste (I used Korean anchovy miso for extra umami)
- 2 to 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 TB vegetable or corn oil
- 1 TB sesame oil
- White pepper, to taste
- Soy sauce
Wash broccoli and trim crowns, discarding tough stems and cutting the rest up into bite-sized pieces.
Before you start stir-frying, make sure you have everything chopped and measured out because once you start, everything needs to move very quickly.
Heat up a wok over high heat, add vegetable oil and sesame oil and heat that up until it’s glistening and smoking slightly. Add garlic, stir-fry it for 30 seconds (make sure it doesn’t brown), then add ginger, preserved radish (if using) and minced shallots, mixing well. Stir-fry until fragrant — note, this should take less than a minute at the most. Don’t burn the mixture.
Add a splash of soy sauce, a few dashes of white pepper, mix well then add broccoli. Stir-fry well so everything is mixed up, then cover for a minute so the veggies get steamed.
Uncover then add stock and miso paste, stirring well. Bring that mixture to a boil, then add eggs, stirring quickly. Once eggs are set and streaky, serve immediately with rice.