What’s to buy right now at the wet market? We’ll be featuring a different seasonal ingredient and recipe in each of our Market Watch columns. Without further ado:
Cauliflower 椰菜花 yeh4 choy3 fah1 commonly features in western recipes, but did you know that it also stars heavily on the dining tables in Guangdong homes? It’s often a go-to for making meat stir-frys, mostly for its lower price and abundance throughout the year. While cauliflower isn’t indigenous to Guangdong, it was introduced to Taishan county in Guangdong province by Chinese who worked abroad in the early 19th century, and later spread throughout the region.
“Cauliflower is all about the crunch,” wet market vendor Sister Three tells us. “You cannot throw out the stems.” Instead of chopping the stems off entirely, only remove the toughest part at the bottom, keeping the majority of the stems. Cut the cauliflower head into long and narrow strips. Each piece should have a couple florets and stem attached, which helps the vegetable keeps its firm texture even after high-heat wok-frying.
Finding a fresh and good quality cauliflower gets half the job done. Look for firm and compact florets and a delicate pale green color. Any dark spots or brown coloring indicates possible spoilage and should be avoided.
Recipe Idea: Vegan Cauliflower Stir-Fry With Fermented Bean Curd
The most common cauliflower dish in Hong Kong homes is likely beef and cauliflower stir-fry 椰菜花炒牛肉 yeh4 choy3 fah1 chao2 ngau4 yook6, but Sister Three has a more exciting recipe to recommend: vegan cauliflower stir-fry with fermented bean curd 腐乳炒椰菜花 foo6 yu5 chao2 yeh4 choy3 fah1. Not only is it great with rice and congee, it’s also a vegetarian dish!
What you’ll need:
- Fermented bean curd 腐乳 foo6 yu5 (2-4 pieces per cauliflower head)
- Ginger or garlic
- Only chop off the toughest part of the stem. Keeping most of the stem, cut the cauliflower into long and narrow strips. Wash carefully and blanch in boiling water for two to three minutes. Meanwhile, slice ginger or garlic.
- Pre-heat wok on medium to high heat for one to two minutes. Add a little more oil than usual, followed by ginger or garlic. Add cauliflower into hot oil and keep stir-frying, similar to the Sichuanese technique known as “dry frying” 干煸 gawn1 been1, until browning develops. It’s important at this stage to not salt the cauliflower so you don’t draw out the moisture and make it all soggy.
- Add fermented bean curd and mix evenly. Season with sugar to round out the saltiness. Plate and serve.
三妹菜檔 sahm1 mui6 choy3 dawng3 “Sister Three Vegetable Stall”
Stall 43, Shui Wo Street Wet Market, Kwun Tong.