This week’s French Friday recipe is a simple steamed vegetable combination of bok choy, snap peas, and spring onions that Dorie describes as having a “Europe-in-the-spring accent” rather than the oft used Asian flavors of soy and ginger. It’s not surprising to me to see bok choy in a French inspired dish or to hear Dorie sees them in the markets, given the French colonization of Southeast Asia. You see many French influences in cooking there and it seems natural to see that the influence would follow back to France and the rest of Europe.
Dorie wonders in the introduction to the recipe why she sees the vegetable in every French market, but rarely at a dinner party. I can say that as much as we love baby bok choy (in our house often served with a splash of tamari, garlic and oyster sauce) it’s the hardest vegetable to clean. The stalks look deceptively loose, and easy to rinse out, but inevitably hold tiny bits of grit that won’t dissolve even soaked in water. D and I are willing to put up with a bit of sand or dirt because we love the slightly sweet, slightly bitter, deep green flavor contrasted with the crisp watery stalks but the thought of serving it to guests who would question my cooking/cleaning skills after a tiny crunch…well, no.
So I encourage you all to make this at home, and when you find super clean baby bok choy, to rinse it well and take a chance on making these lovely packets for your guests as Dorie suggests as either a starter or a side with some fish. The garlic slices go well with the peas and greens. The orange and mint flavors, along with onions, do evoke spring. We made the whole batch for 4 even though it meant there were two leftover portions: peas look green-grey left overnight, but the flavor of the mint dispersed and the orange sunk into the vegetables and honestly the flavor was much better on day two, even if the look of it was not.
Notes on the recipe:
- We are still mainly eating organic vegetables and it was tough to find small baby bok choy, mine were more like tween choy so I cut them into quarters instead of halves.
- Early tiny spring onions are in the farmers market here, but not the grocer. I used large green onions and so as not to waste any only bought 6 and added in some of the green parts.
- The orange zest is from a leftover blood orange from my fridge, so the color might look a bit different.
- I used some chocolate mint from my garden – it has a strong almost peppermint mint flavor so if you are not a mint fan, a milder spearmint, or a smaller amount would do well here.
- You can see some pre-made meatballs on the plate that I served for dinner. We are eating our way through leftovers from the freezer as part of my spring cleaning. More freezer cleaning recipes are likely to follow on the blog. 🙂
Since 2011, a group of cooks and bloggers have been making their way though all the recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table.” We don’t publish the recipes, but you can pick up your own copy of the book and cook along, or just enjoy all the great food to be found in its pages.