Sunday, March 26, 2017

King Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy with Banana Flower Sauce and Black Jasmine Rice

     A Tasty Vegetarian Entrée!
     Asian food items that may seem exotic in the western world are usually standard fare in the far east.  For example, Banana Blossoms and Banana Flowers are almost never used European or American cuisine, yet these are popular items in Southeast Asia.  King Trumpet Mushrooms are another item that is rarely used in western culture recipes.  Even though Banana Blossoms, Banana Flowers and King Mushrooms are widely available in America, these tasty items never seem to be featured in mainstream recipes.  
     The entire purple color budding banana flower is usually marketed as a Banana Blossom.  The purple color petals are cooked just like cabbage and they have a similar flavor.  The long pistils inside a Banana Blossom are usually marketed as Banana Flowers.  The Banana Flower Pistils have a bitter flavor and they are used extensively in Southeast Asian cuisine.  Bitter Banana Flowers often are used to flavor savory sweet sauces.  Dried Banana Flowers are available in Asian food markets.     
     King Mushrooms are the largest member of the Oyster Mushroom family and they have a very long shelf life.  King Mushrooms are easy to grow and they are very large, so they are modestly priced.  These mushrooms have a mild agreeable flavor, they have anti aging properties and they are very nutritious.
     Black Jasmine Rice is also called Forbidden Rice or Emperor's Rice.  Long ago, it was forbidden for regular people to eat the Black Jasmine Rice, because this special rice was reserved for only Emperors.  Black Jasmine Rice is an ancient super grain that contains about twice as much protein as regular white rice.  This black color rice also looks nice on a plate. 

     Forbidden Rice:  
     This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.  (1 large portion)
     Black Jasmine Rice takes a little longer to cook than white rice.  A little bit more water is needed to boil or steam this rice and the cooking time is a few minutes longer.  Black Jasmine Rice never becomes sticky, because the hulls are attached to the grains of rice.  The flavor of Black Jasmine Rice is aromatic!
     Step 1:  Boil 1 1/3 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of Black Jasmine Rice.
     Bring the liquid back to a boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer and steam till the rice is tender.  (About 23 minutes)
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Keep the Black Jasmine Rice warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Toasted Sesame Seeds:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds.
     Shake the pan occasionally till the sesame seeds toast to a light golden color.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the toasted sesame seeds in a container and set it aside.
     King Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy with Banana Flower Sauce and Black Jasmine Rice:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.  
     Be sure to have all the ingredients ready before starting the stir fry!
     Dried Banana Flower Pistils are fairly soft and they do not take much time to reconstitute when making a sauce.  They are usually packed with salt and the salt should be rinsed off.  
     Step 1:  Place 3/4 cup of light vegetable broth in a container.  (The broth should be room temperature.)
     Add 1/4 cup of rice wine (sake).
     Add 2 teaspoons of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of granulated sugar.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 8 Dried Banana Flower Pistils.
     Add 1 tablespoons of corn starch.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the sauce mixture aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a mini wok (or wide sauté pan) over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 4 whole garlic cloves.
     Briefly stir fry the garlic till golden highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of bite size sliced King Trumpet Mushroom.  (About 3/16" thick.)
     Add 1/4 cup of sliced onion strips.  (About 1/4" wide.)
     Add 1/4 cup red bell pepper strips.
     Add 1 small Green Serrano Chile Pepper that is thin sliced.
     Add 6 Baby Bok Choy that are cut in half lengthwise.
     Stir fry till the vegetables start to become tender.  (al dente)
     Step 4:  Add the reserved sauce mixture.  (Stir the mixture first!)
     Bring the sauce to a boil, while stirring the ingredients.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.     
     Briefly simmer till the sauce is translucent and it is thick enough to coat the vegetables with flavor.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 5:  Place about 1 1/3 cups to 1 1/2 cups of the Black Jasmine Rice on an oval plate.
     Use a spoon to form a ring of Black Jasmine Rice on the border of the plate, to make an empty well in the center.
     Step 6:  Mound the King Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy with Banana Flower Sauce on the center of the plate.  (If there is extra sauce, then place it in a sauce boat and serve it on the side!)
     Sprinkle the reserved Toasted Sesame Seeds over the vegetables.

     This healthy vegetarian entrée has an interesting savory bitter sweet flavor contrast!

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