Blanched choy sum with sizzling oil

Blanched choy sum with sizzling oil

You lin cai xin

Every Grain of Rice
Chris Terry

This dish of bright, fresh greens in a radiantly delicious dressing uses a common Cantonese flavouring method in which cooked ingredients are scattered with slivered ginger and spring onions, followed by a libation of hot, sizzling oil and a sousing of soy sauce. The hot oil awakens the fragrances of the ginger and onion slivers and the soy sauce gives the vegetables an umami richness. It’s one of the quickest and easiest dishes in this book and I can never quite believe how wonderful it tastes.

The same method can be used with many kinds of vegetables, including spinach, lettuce, pak choy, broccoli, Chinese broccoli and purple-sprouting broccoli. Just adjust the blanching time according to your ingredients: you want them to be tender, but still fresh-tasting and a little crisp. At the Wei Zhuang restaurant in Hangzhou, I once had a beautiful starter in which four ingredients – water chestnuts, romaine-type lettuce hearts, peeled strips of cucumber and bundles of beansprouts – had been separately blanched, then bathed like this in hot oil and soy sauce.


Quantity Ingredient
300g choy sum
2 spring onions
10 g piece ginger
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons light soy sauce, diluted with 2 tablespoons hot water from the kettle
small strip red pepper, for colour (optional)
or small strip red chilli, for colour (optional)


  1. Bring a panful of water to a boil.
  2. Wash and trim the choy sum. Trim the spring onions and cut them lengthways into very fine slivers. Peel the ginger and cut it, too, into very fine slivers. Cut a few very fine slivers of the chilli or red pepper, if using.
  3. Add the salt and 1 tablespoon of the oil to the water, tip in the choy sum and blanch for a minute or so until it has just lost its rawness (the stems should still be a little crisp). Drain and shake dry in a colander.
  4. Pile the choy sum neatly on a serving dish and pile the spring onion, ginger and chilli or pepper slivers on top.
  5. Heat the remaining oil over a high flame. When the oil is hot, ladle it carefully over the spring onions, ginger and chilli. It should sizzle dramatically. (To make sure the oil is hot enough, try ladling a few drops on first, to check for the sizzle. As soon as you get a vigorous sizzle, pour over the rest of the oil.)
  6. Pour over the diluted soy sauce mixture, and serve.


  • Purple-sprouting broccoli with sizzling oil: Purple-sprouting broccoli is not a Chinese vegetable, but it tastes spectacular when given the sizzling oil treatment. Blanch 300 g broccoli as above, but add a few slices of peeled ginger and a couple of pinches of caster sugar to the salt and oil in the blanching water. Lay the drained broccoli on a plate and finish with 3 tablespoons sizzling-hot oil and 2 tablespoons diluted soy sauce, as in the main recipe.
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