Bok choy, fennel, and leek

May 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm (C (2 stars, okay, edible), Dark leafy greens, East and SE Asia, Other, Vegetable dishes)

I pulled out the Rancho La Puerta cookbook (by Bill Wavrin) this week and started looking for a new recipe to try.  Many of the recipes call for ingredients I can’t get here in Germany.  I did, however, find one recipe with “German” ingredients that intrigued me.  The recipe is titled  bok choy, fennel, and spinach, but it also calls for four leeks, a chile, star anise, garlic, ginger, and fresh rosemary.  The flavors are pretty typical Asian flavors except for the rosemary, which seems odd here. 

I decided to make the recipe, and purchased all the ingredients.  But when I started to prep the veggies for the recipe I became confused.  The recipe calls for one head of bok choy, sliced into 8 pieces.  I assumed Wavrin wanted the bok choy cut lengthwise, but I wasn’t sure.  And here in Germany I can only get little bok choys.  I wasn’t sure how many of them would be equivalent to one regular head.  The fennel instructions were also a little unclear.  He says to cut the fennel into 1/4-inch thick slices, but lengthwise or crosswise?  I cut crosswise but I think that was a mistake as the fennel fell apart into individual rings, which kind of stuck up everywhere.

The vegetables (except the fennel and spinach) are sauteed in 1 tsp. of toasted sesame oil for 3 or 4 minutes.  The the fennel, spinach, star anise, ginger, and some vegetable stock are added and everything is simmered.  Finally, the rosemary is sprinkled on top along with some soy sauce.

Maybe my vegetables were bigger than Wavrin intended, but since his instructions are so imprecise I can’t be sure.  But given the amount of vegetables I had, the amount of seasoning Wavrin calls for seemed kind of puny.  1 Thai chile?  1 star anise?  1 tsp. minced ginger?  1/4 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary?  I bumped everything up significantly.

In the end I also left out the spinach.  I felt like with the leeks, bok choy, and fennel there was enough going on already.  I figured I’d save my spinach for something else.  How much spinach is “two cups” anyway?  Should the cups be tightly packed?

The final dish tasted pretty good–lots of anise flavors came through.  But I found the shapes of the vegetables to be unwieldy, and a little unappetizing looking.  When Derek looked at the dish he said “I don’t think I can eat that.”  He tried it though and liked it, and even went back for seconds.  He said it was perfectly good but basically tasted like steamed vegetables.  He said he could sometimes taste the star anise but he’s not sure whether he liked it.

I think I might use this again as inspiration for another recipe, but I wouldn’t make it quite like this.  maybe I could make some sort of veggie stack with the bok choy and fennel and drizzle it with the sauce, or maybe I could turn it into a soup of sorts.

Rating: B-

Derek: B

1 Comment

  1. Cookbook review: Rancho la Puerta « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] Bok choy, fennel, and leek:  this recipe’s instructions were pretty imprecise, and the amount of seasoning was puny.  After upping all the seasonings it tasted okay, but I found the shapes of the vegetables to be unwieldy, and a little unappetizing looking. […]

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