Apr 29, 2014

Semi Stir Fried and Simmered Choi Sum - 煨炒菜心

Quick stir fry recipe using "choi sum," or vegetable heart 菜心. This ingredient can be found at Chinese grocery stores. Among all the leafy greens, this is the only one that looks like thick sticks. Should be pretty easy to spot choi sum even when finding yourself surrounded by all the unfamiliar Chinese produce. 

Semi stir fried and simmered choi sum 煨炒菜心 -


  • 1 large choi sum
  • 1/2 cup of low sodium chicken stock
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 red chilies
  • 0.3 lb/one handful of pork strips
  • Some olive oil (yummier choices are pig fat and chicken fat)
  • Some salt


Here's a picture of the choi sum, there's no way you can miss this thing at the produce section -

Choi sum comes with fibrous outer surface, kind of like celery. Try to make a slit in order to peel the exterior skin from the opening. However, simply peeling off the surface is not enough. Use a peeler to further remove any residual fibers until the choi sum appears moist and smooth.

Cut the prepared choi sum diagonally into almost half an inch thickness pieces. Peel and trim off the tough end from the garlic cloves, then slice the cloves. Trim off the stems from the chilies and finely chop the remaining. 

The pork strips I used were actually from a large chunk of meat used in soup. So I took the pork out and cut them into strips. You can definitely use uncooked version but try to avoid the pre-cut ones from the grocery stores since they are mostly too lean for this recipe . Use semi-fatty pork for a more moist and tender texture. 

The homemade chicken stock used in the picture was still in cold gelatinous form. It contains natural chicken fat derived from hours of simmering, which looks like soft jelly when stored in the fridge. This type of stock is perfect for this choi sum recipe, in which more fatty content creates a smoother bite for the vegetable. 

Drizzle some oil in the pan till it thinly coated the entire bottom. Turn to medium heat, add in sliced garlic and the chilies. Cook for couple minutes, till the garlicky aroma comes out but not burned.

Add in the choi sum along with a small pinch of salt. Give it a quick stir, about one minute. Add in pork strips and just cook till about half way through.

Pour in low sodium stock and turn to medium high heat. Keep the stock simmering or slightly boiling. Cook till the stock appears nearly gone and when the ingredients have a slightly sticky or gooey appearance. 

It might take up to few minutes for the sauce to get condenses and soaked in the veggies. The choi sum still has a bite to it even after simmering. The texture is similar to ripe melon, but the bottom part adjacent to the skin. 

The garlic and chilies create extra kick for the choi sum, but the chicken stock is the true flavor determining the success of this recipe. Chinese style chicken stock works the best, the one made with scallion, chicken bones, ginger, etc. Or if you ever have any leftover chicken soup from a Chinese restaurant, why not bring it home and give this recipe a shot? 


  1. I call it 莴苣. I thought Choi Sum is another kind of leafy green? Whatever it is, I like it anyway. For this vegetable, I have tried slicing, quick blanch, then toss in sesame oil, season with pinch of salt and ground white pepper.

    1. Oh? I thought 莴苣 is some kind of lettuce? Ha but at least we all know what vegetable we are talking about! I love your simple way of cooking it, sounds delicious!