Bryan has a very strict rule when it comes to entertaining: never experiment on your guests. If you haven't validated a recipe, don't try it for the first time on your poor, unsuspecting guests.
We broke that rule this past New Years Day.
One of our friends had decided to host a crazy wine tasting dinner (he was busting out some pretty fine wines from his personal collection), and he asked whether we could hold the party at our house. He would take care of picking up the meat (oh, just some dry-aged steaks and a whole paleta iberico leg (!)). Another friend would bring a suckling pig.
We were just in charge of the vegetables.
There was no question I would make my signature Taiwanese Grilled Corn. I also tossed together a simple Japanese cucumber salad and made a tasty butternut squash crab soup (recipe coming soon!). Finally, I planned to roast bok choy in the oven, a method I had developed a few months back after being inspired by the delicious deep fried bok choy from Alden & Harlow (yes, crispy bok choy leaves are awesome).
On a whim (so out of character!), Bryan agreed to try grilling our bok choy instead.
It wasn't a completely wild experiment. We had tasted grilled bok choy at various restaurants throughout Boston (most notably at La Brasa and Shepard), and knew we loved the charred, flavorful leaves that resulted.
The experiment was a resounding success! It was so good, I couldn't stop stealing bites before the guests arrived (heh heh).
If you can, get the smaller baby bok choy. They come in bags at Asian markets. I usually get mine either at H Mart in Central Square, Hong Kong Market in Allston, or C Mart in Chinatown. Soak and rinse, making sure to get as much dirt out as possible!
Cut them straight down the middle in half. If it's a really big stalk, I might cut into fourths. The goal is to keep the sizes of all the pieces relatively consistent, since size affects cooking time.
Toss with olive oil and salt, as if you were dressing it for oven roasting. You can also use other oils, like canola oil or vegetable oil.
We used a separate grill pan to prevent the bok choy from falling into the fire. Grill for 1-2 minutes per side, preferably cut side down first, until nicely charred.
It's amazing what kind of flavors can be coaxed out of the humble bok choy when you grilled it over a fire.
The bok choy was a hit at dinner, and I decided that it was my new favorite way of enjoying this delicious vegetable.
We did let the success get to our heads just a bit. We plowed on, deciding to grill carrots next. Those things, my friend, take forever to grill. We learned that the hard way. I will stick with roasting them in the oven (my favorite way of eating carrots!).
Nevertheless, the evening was a success. We enjoyed fantastic wines, phenomenal meats, and awesome grilled vegetables. Most importantly, we enjoyed being in the company of friends, both new and old.