Yu Choy (which is also called Yu Choy Sum, Choy Sum, as well as “Cai Xin” in Chinese PinYin) is a leafy vegetable that grows only in southern China and is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. It wins extreme popularity in the Guangdong Province and Guangxi Province, where are gifted with warm weather, suiting the growth of Yu Choy, and allowing the cultivation and harvest even in winter. Therefore, Yu Choy has become one of the most common vegetables in Guangdong, China.
Guangdong Cuisine states a vital position in southern China, and Guangdong people inherit the natural fond of leafy vegetables by generations. The most common cooking method for Yu Choy in Guangdong Cuisine is the “boiled method,” where the Yu Choy is boiled firstly and followed by seasoning with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and minced garlic, thus preserving the original taste and nutritional value of Yu Choy to the maximum extent. The boiled method, which is assumed by many people a simple cooking process of scalding, is a technique from the Guangdong Cuisine that requires solid skills, where time and manner of scalding may vary according to different ingredients.
The first experience of the Boiled Yu Choy by a restaurant chef happened when I wasn’t armed with such knowledge, so I thought it’s a simple dish. However, I changed my mind when I got the fresh Yu Choy home and prepared to show my stuff. I found that this seemingly simple boiled Yu Choy was not as easy as I thought. I worked on the dish several times, then only slowly summing up some experience, yet it was still far from the level of a restaurant chef.
Yu Choy Recipe
- 400g Yu Choy (weighted about 1 pound)
- 1½ tablespoon of edible oil, divided into two parts, the 1 tablespoon, and the ½ tablespoon
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (light soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of white sugar
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped or replaced by garlic sauce.
Garlic is optional, which depends on your acceptance of garlic. There is a detail instructions of how to make garlic sauce in another article. For those loving garlic sauce just like I do, you don’t want to miss it. Please click here to get: Garlic Sauce Recipe.
- Wash the Yu Choy. Wash the Yu Choy. Peel it off or cut it off if the bottom stem was aged (meaning too hard.)
- Prepare a pot with half-filled water. Boil it, and add 1 tablespoon of edible oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Hold the Yu Choy in your hand and dip the stem of Yu Choy vertically into the water for 40 seconds, then place the Yu Choy horizontally into the boiling water for another 30 seconds boil. Scoop it up and put it on a plate for later use.
- Prepare the seasoning sauce. Take a small bowl, with 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of white sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water added and stirred well.
- Add 1/2 tablespoons of edible oil to a pan, pour the chopped garlic, and stir-fry for 10-15 seconds (for those use garlic sauce, this step requires 5-10 seconds’ stir-frying.) Followed by the sauce prepared in the previous step to be poured into the pan and stir-fried well. Turn off the fire once the sauce boils. Pour the cooked sauce onto the Yu Choy, ready to serve.
What ate the matters needing attention while cooking the Yu Choy?
- Nothing is more important than freshness for leafy vegetables. A delicate dish starts with ingredients purchasing. You don’t want to choose the Yu Choy with too much wilting, or with a dried-up stem, which are signs of losing freshness; you want fresh ones.
- As for the washing process of the vegetable. It is recommended to follow a 15 minutes soak for leafy greens. I would love to advise you guys not skip this step, as it helps to remove the residual dirt on the vegetables effectively.
- The stem of the Yu Choy is thicker and stronger than the leaves, which requires more prolonged cooking on the stem before it’s cooked. Therefore, in the boiling process, the stem shall be dealt with firstly, then only followed by the whole Yu Choy boiling in the water. In this way, we can prevent the leaves from over-boiled. Vegetables lose their nutrition when they’re over-cooked, no matter for Yu Choy, or other types. It is essential to master the time of Yu Choy being boiled. My personal experience indicates to complete the boiling process within 2 minutes. Generally speaking, when the color turns to dark green, it’s about the time.
Is there any other cooking method of Yu Choy?
There are different methods, undoubtedly. Boiled Yu Choy is the most popular course in Guangdong, China. Although its heat has even spread to other cities, it’s not the only treasure of Yu Choy cooking. Stir-fry Yu Choy is another superstar of “Yu Choy famous dishes club.” The Chinese have got accustomed to stir-fry all types of vegetables, which provide the green a perfect stage to show original taste, by only salt and garlic as the seasonings.
Cooking Steps of Stir-frying Yu Choy
- Cut the washed Yu Choy into 4cm long (about 1.5 inches)
- Add some edible oil to the frying pan and heat it, followed by chopped garlic to be added. Stir-fry for 10 seconds.
- Pour the Yu Choy into the pan and stir-fry continuously, then add 4 tablespoons of water and a little salt, stir-fry for 3-5 minutes before it’s ready.
Boiled Yu Choy and Stir-fry Yu Choy are two of the mainstream cooking methods in China, while according to my memory, there is a relatively rare cooking method of Yu Choy, that is, cooking porridge. I don’t recall when it was, but I do remember that my mother chopped the Yu Choy and simmered with porridge, with only a little salt added as the seasoning, and I do remember how impressive the Yu Choy porridge was. I believe the memory will drive me to the kitchen to trace the delicacy, and I think there will be another recipe of Yu Choy to share if I succeed.