Many of you don’t know this, but I spent 7 months in China a couple years ago. I was studying and I also got to do a lot of traveling. I sometimes joke that I have been to more places in China than I have in the US. I loved getting to immerse myself in another country so throughly, but I came back very wary of Americanized Chinese food. It is always gloppy in a way that it never was in China, so I started making my own Chinese food at home instead of doing take out.
One of the best vegetarian Chinese cookbooks is Florence Lin’s Chinese Vegetarian Cookbook. If you are at all interested in making your own authentic vegetarian Chinese food, I highly recommend this book. It’s out of print, but there are a couple of cheap used copies available via Amazon. The only problem I have with the cookbook is that it makes copious use of msg, which I always leave out.
Below is a recipe for broccoli stem salad adapted from this book. Broccoli stems are very nutritious, and often go to waste. This is an excellent way to make a fun, crisp, and healthy snack out of them.
Broccoli Stem Salad
Serves 3 (easily doubled)
- 2 c. broccoli stems
- 1 quart water
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 4 tsp. soy sauce
- 3 tsp. sesame oil
- Peal the bottoms of the broccoli stems to remove the tough fibers. (Don’t worry too much about getting everything)
- Cut the stems into 1/2 inch wide rounds
- Bring water to a boil and add broccoli stems and baking soda and boil for 1 minute. (Baking soda will make the stems a brighter green, which is pretty, but can be omitted easily)
- Rinse the stems in cold water and either let air dry, or dry with a towel
- Add the rest of the ingredients to a bowl and mix throughly, then add the stems and mix again.
- Allow to sit, mixing periodically so that the stems marinate evenly. This dish is usually served cold, but I like it at room temperature.