Whenever I have reason to be on the other side of Portland I can’t resist stopping by Uwajimaya to look over their huge selection of Asian grocery and houseware items. I often don’t buy all that much: some interesting tofu, pretty packages of udon noodles, canned green tea and/or a bag of interesting snacks.
What I do indulge in is looking. The housewares are unique and interesting. They have a good selection of big noodle bowls, tiny sake cups, sturdy tetsubin and those cute molds to form sushi rice.
The drink section is a study in the poetry of packaging. Flowing Japanese calligraphy paints words I can only feel with my eyes but not understand, beside an English approximation like “Wandering Poet” or “Haiku". The bottles are just as beautiful, made of pretty colored glass filled with thick nigori sake or dark triangular bottles that look sleek and contemporary. Some of them are filled with liquor flecked with gold. Who knew you could find so many beautiful varieties of sake in one place here in the US, not to mention Asian beer and other beverages?
Perhaps my favorite section, however, is the produce aisle. There is always some selection of fruits or vegetables that I rarely see elsewhere, some I have never seen before. Long curly green beans, spiny lychee and dragonfruit. Slightly more familiar are the bitter melons that I first discovered just a few years ago in CA and baby bok choy I first fell for last year.
On my last trip I brought some of the baby bok choy home because it looked so bright and fresh. Three little heads of this pretty cabbage amounted to about ¾ pound once cleaned and chopped, just enough for my husband and myself for dinner. With a little broiled tofu and rice and a small bottle of intriguing sake it makes a wonderfully light and interesting summer meal.
Baby Bok Choy with Peanuts
Adapted from a post at Simply Recipes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ cup green onions
2 cloves garlic
12 oz baby bok choy, rinsed
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon tamari
¼ cup peanuts or cashews, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
To trim the baby bok choy cut approximately a ½-inch slice from the bottom. Separate the larger outer leaves that are loosened, more if they seem large, but leaving the smaller leaves attacked. Cut the whole attacked bok choy base into quarters, lengthwise. Chop the loose leaves into ½-inch slices, crosswise.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan. Add the green onions, garlic and then the baby bok choy. Season with the sesame oil, tamari and salt.
Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until the bok choy leaves wilt and stalks are tender, approximately 3 – 5 minutes.
Stir in the peanuts or other nuts.
Serve and enjoy!