This is a simple, fast, and tasty dish. Watercress (豆瓣菜, dòubàn cài) is a tasty herb that grows in standing water. The leaves and smallish stems have a pleasant peppery taste, and are rumored to have medicinal properties… although sources differ on exactly what those properties are. Some people think it improves the complexion while others promote its antiseptic qualities. Still others think it can prevent cancer. Your mileage may vary. Regardless, this stir-fry is delicious.
This recipe is too simple for process photos, so let’s just get on with it:
INGREDIENTS and PREP:
- 1 cup fresh mushrooms such as shiitakes, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced, with an equal amount of minced ginger
- 3 scallions, white parts only, minced
- 1 very large bunch watercress, perhaps half a pound, with the coarse stems snapped off and discarded
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce mixed with 1 tsp potato flour
- Heat your wok until barely smoking. Then add 1 Tbsp peanut oil and swirl it around. Add the mushrooms (#1) and stir-fry for about a minute until the mushrooms begin to sweat.
- Next, add the garlic and ginger (#2) and stir-fry for about 30 seconds; add the scallions (#3) and stir for another half-minute.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the watercress (#4) to your wok, stir-frying until reduced in size and beginning to wilt. Keep stirring continually so that the garlic and scallions don’t burn.
- When the watercress has just begun to wilt, add the peanuts (#5) and stir for another half-minute until hot. Then pour in the sauce (#6) and stir until everything is heated through and coated; don’t overcook. Serve right away with rice and contrasting dishes.
VARIATIONS: The cornerstone here is basically watercress, and everything else is negotiable. You might try adding chili oil or chili bean paste for a hotter taste. Add 2 tsp Shaoxing rice wine or mirin to the sauce for a sweeter taste. Omit the mushrooms; instead, stir in some matchstick carrots and/or mung bean sprouts when you add the watercress to the wok.