You stuffed what?! With What?!

Ever have a “Rock Star” moment? I actually had two in my last trip to the grocery store and was as giddy as a school girl when I got home because they do not happen that often (or often enough if you ask me). The first one was after I first picked out my Bok Choy cabbage heads. A lady walked up and asked me what type of greens they were and as I started explaining about 3 more ladies came up and started listening. I began to explain what I was going to do with them and told them that I had a food blog and that a recipe was going to be out there shortly.  They all pulled out paper and wrote down the address.  I felt kind of cool at that point. The second moment was while I was trying to find green onions for the stuffing mixture. A nice lady was standing there holding some wet broccoli, I happened to have a bag and let her use it because I did not see the green onions. She then told me that she had been standing there in front of them all the time and I told her what they were for. As I explained how I was going to make the stuffing, she nodded her head and it looked like she thought it was going to be pretty tasty. I told her I had a food blog and that I was going to put the recipe out there in a couple of days and SHE pulled out some paper and got the web address. I then felt really, really cool and even though I do not have a large number of followers at least it seemed like people were interested and they thought the food would taste good. I guess that is pretty sad that I think these encounters were “Rock Star”moments but I guess it is all in one’s perception. For me, I felt pretty good. Well, enough of that stuff and on to the recipe.

For many a week now, since the beginning of what should have been spring but has turned out to be a short stretch of “interesting” (in the Chinese curse sort of way) weather, I have been staring at the baby Bok Choy in the grocery store, not in an inappropriate way, mind you, and it is not that I believed that they were going to speak to me, like many vegetables have in the past but I always thought that I would be able to do something interesting with them in the kitchen but what? During my past visit to the store, I turned my attention to the mature Bok Choy to see what they had to offer saw those long luscious leaves and my mind started racing to see what I could come up with to use this vegetable.  Because the weather has been so cool lately it was reminding me of a stuffed cabbage dish that originated in Poland, Hungary and what was the East Bloc nations from the days of the USSR, called gwumpkies.  These are regular cabbage leaves stuffed with a mixture of either ground beef, pork or a combination of meats with rice. They are a pretty hearty meal and a nice comfort food for winter but really not suitable for the spring or summer because they are so heavy. So to that end, I really did not want to use any of the heavy meats because of the fat content and the tendency to make you want to hibernate or drink copious amounts of vodka so I began looking at the turkey and chickens of the world. Although, turkey and chicken were lighter, lots of people stuff Bok Choy with the ground version of the fowls so I turned my attention to the seafood I would normally eat in the summer. Crab was the first thought but was too damn expensive. The tunas, salmons and heaven forbid, Tilapia’s did not really appeal to me so I thought, shrimp!  And, that was the answer so a recipe was born. Bok Choy is used in a host of Asian dishes and I remember some Korean soldiers whose wives made Kimchee (pickled cabbage and onions) with it but I wanted something different and decided on stuffing the leaves.  My thoughts wandered to how to prepare the shrimp and I thought I would get the best flavor by roasting, as opposed to boiling, the shrimp. The dish is constructed in much the same way as gwumpkies and turned out amazing. (All of my test subjects loved them.) So without further adieu here is the recipe

This Ain’t no Ploy,

(Shrimp stuffed Bok Choy)

(Serves 4-6)

The Well Fed Cyclist

Gary Bechard

Ingredients:

2.0 lbs – Shrimp, 51 to 60 count, shelled and de-veined

1 1/2 cups – Jasmine rice, (I used Minute Rice for simplicity)

15 to 16 – Large Bok Choy leaves (You can count on getting 2 to 3 heads of Bok Choy, I just count the leaves while I am in the store before I head out)

1 cup – Green onions, chopped (Stuffing mixture)

1/3 cup – Mushrooms, fine chopped (Stuffing mixture)

¼ cup – Slivered almonds, chopped fine (Stuffing mixture)

1 – Celery stalk, (relatively large), fine diced (Stuffing mixture)

3/4 tsp – Ground ginger, (Shrimp coating)

2 tsp – Toasted sesame seed, (Shrimp coating)

1 tbsp – Coarse ground black pepper (Shrimp coating)

2 tbsp – Soy sauce (I use the light, low sodium version) (Shrimp coating)

¼ cup  – Peanut oil, (Shrimp coating)

1 tbsp – Toasted sesame oil, (Shrimp coating)

6 to 8 cups – Mushroom broth, (4 to 5 in which you will boil the rice and the rest will be for wilting the Bok Choy leaves)

¼ to ½ cup – Chicken stock (or mushroom broth) for the bottom of the baking dish

Frank’s Red Hot, Sweet Chili sauce (Thick) or Thai Sirracha chili sauce (for those who like a bit more spice in their life)

Preparation – Take the leaves off the Bok Choy by cutting them, or pulling them, off the bottom like you would a lettuce leaf. Wash each of the leaves thoroughly as there will be quite a bit of dirt in there and separate in a dish according to size (This will make more sense later). On the end of the white part cut off the end of the stem pretty close to where the green begins on the Bok Choy leaf and toss (or make a necklace, it is entirely up to you).  However, you will need a little bit of the stem when you are wilting the leaves. I also do the chopping first and place the ingredients in the refrigerator so that it saves time later.

Construction Instruction –

Shrimp Marinade and Roasting – In a large bowl, combine peanut oil, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds, ground ginger, and black pepper and whisk together until completely combined. Next, make sure the shrimp are defrosted (if you use frozen “fresh”) and toss them into the bowl with the marinade. Using your hands (it is really not that bad, come on) kind of toss the shrimp making sure that each has an equal amount of coating and spread these in a single layer on a large cookie sheet.  There is no need to coat with non-stick spray because the shrimp are already oiled (just like getting them ready to get a suntan).  Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, and roast the shrimp from 10 to 20 minutes or until they become firm making sure to flip them half way through the process. Set these aside and let them cool for a bit. Keep the cookie sheet out because you will want to have the oils and seasonings that are leftover for the mixture.

Rice – I use Minute rice because it is easy. Cook the rice according to the package directions in 4 to 5 cups of the mushroom broth, drain well and set aside.

Stuffing Mixture – Take your semi-cooled shrimp and toss those puppies into a food processor and pulse several times until the shrimp’s texture looks like cooked ground turkey.  Note: I use a small processor, small batches and very short pulses so that I do not liquidate the shrimp. When the pulsing is complete, put shrimp in a large bowl and add, cooked rice, green onions, mushrooms, almonds, and celery. Next, add the leftover oils and seasonings from the shrimp roasting and fold everything together until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Creating the stuffed leaves – First, make your “production line”, you will need a large shallow skillet, a pretty large working area and your baking dish.  In the baking dish (a deep 9” X 13”) or similar dish (the one that I use is about 2 ½ “ to 3” deep) put about a ¼ inch (about a 1/3 cup) of chicken or mushroom stock in the bottom and place this at the end of your “production line). Next, put some stock in the bottom of the skillet and put on low heat. When the stock starts to steam a little start taking your Bok Choy leaves, largest ones first, about 2 at a time and wilt them in the stock. This will only take a couple of minutes each turning once so that you get the other side.  Note: You do not want them too wilted or they will not hold the mixture during the baking process. After you have wilted the first two and have placed the second 2 in the skillet, spread the leaves on your working area stem side toward you and place about a couple of tablespoons worth of the mixture in the center.  Then, take the stem side and fold over top of the mixture so that the end is at the edge of the pile of mixture, next, fold each side to the center and finally take the far end and fold toward you. Take the completed packet and place with the smooth side up in the baking dish. Repeat, this process until you have a layer of packets along the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Plating – I plated these 2 to 3 per person and allow each person to put the amount of chili sauce they desire on top.  I served this with a double helping of stir-fried vegetables.

Enjoy!

The Well Fed Cyclist

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