Carrots, onions and bok choy, oh my!

The garden is progressing nicely, we now have tomato cages thanks to RoRo and CoCo’s scraptabulousness. If only the tomatoes would hurry up. At least we got a mess of white carrots and sweet peas. Look at that happy gnome.

I didn’t know there were white carrots until I ordered seeds this spring. Apparently carrots come in a rainbow of colors, but I digress.

So, I came home with my share of the carrots, wondering what I should make. Then, I looked at my basil, which I kept alive as two little spindly plants all winter in my window. It has become big and bushy, too big and bushy for its planter. Its wilting if I don’t water it every two days. The ecophysiologist and gourmand in my brain conferred and agreed it was a low root:shoot ratio problem and should be corrected by eating a bunch of its leaves. Finally, I looked in the crisper and remember the baby bok choy I’d bought several days ago. Still good, but not for much longer.

So, I decided to make a basil-chile-lime stir fry. It sounded springtime citrus fresh with a kick. I love stir-frying. It is one of the best ways to train your palate and generally learn to cook. This is due to the fact that it teaches you sequencing (different veggies have different cook times), how to handle hot oil and allows you to adjust midstream anything you don’t like. And there are so many kinds of stir fry to make, you can eat it twice a week and never get bored. I suggest going to an Asian market and acquiring a collection of sauces for this purpose. My favorites include Korean black bean paste, Thai sweet soy sauce (pours like molasses), ginger pepper chutney, curries of every color, coconut milk, and, of course, Sriracha chili sauce, aka ‘Rooster Sauce’ or ‘Cock Sauce’ in less polite company. To quote Paul Sedaris, “You might can fuck him up sometimes, but, bitch, nobody kills the motherfucking Rooster.”

6 small-medium carrots (~two handfuls)
2 heads baby bok choy
4 radishes with tops
1/2 large onion
2 large cloves garlic
Fresh basil (a couple handfuls)
juice of 2 limes
Sriracha Hot Chile Garlic ‘Rooster Sauce’
Thai sweet soy sauce
Rice wine
Sesame oil
Olive oil

Clean, don’t peel carrots. You want those vitamins in the skin. Remove tops and roots from carrots, slice into inch long strips. Think shoestring fries. Keep and wash radish tops. Dice radishes. Finely chop radish greens. Clean bok choy, remove top leafy part from ribs. Chop bok choy ribs and onion. Rip basil and bok choy leaves into large pieces.

Preheat pan on medium. Add enough olive oil to cover entire pan. Add carrots and a healthy dose of Sriracha. Stir and cook until the smallest pieces start to carmelize a little bit and all the pieces are slightly soft. You might want to increase heat so this goes quicker. If oil starts spitting really violently, reduce heat and use a lid cover to avoid grease burns and flaming vaporized oil. That’ll learn ya for adding a moist veggie to hot oil. Add onions and cook until clear, reduce heat. Add garlic, more Sriracha, bok choy ribs, a couple dashes of rice wine and 3/4 of the lime juice. Cook down fluid until starting to thicken a little, stirring regularly. Add sweet soy sauce (this will further thicken the sauce) to taste and a few dashes of sesame oil to deepen the flavor. When you are happy, add basil, bok choy greens and radish greens. Add rest of lime juice on top of greens to keep color. Cover for a minute or so to wilt greens. Stir quickly. I often add my rice or noodles of choice to the pan to pick up the rest of the sauce.

Can’t wait for the tomatoes, but I’m guessing cucumbers may be the next item to arrive from the garden. Or maybe okra? The strawberries seem to be coming a steady small trickle. You know what the best thing to keep strawberries off the soil is? Straw! Go figure…


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