The first time I tried this wild vegetable which Taiwanese call Shan Su Cai (山稣菜) was in Hualien’s Taroko National Park. I was told it is rarely available because people have to climb up hilly slopes to harvest it in the wild. To my surprise, I found it in the local market this morning, so naturally, I had to buy 2 bundles (ntd 60 which is about usd 2) to try.
On Googling this vegetable’s Chinese name, I discovered its English name is Bird’s Nest Fern! Imagine that, eating a fern. I wonder if this is the same Bird’s Nest fern that is ubiquitous in South East Asia. It can be found growing on the trees by the roadside, or in forested areas in countries like Malaysia and Singapore where I come from…. Well, nobody I know in Singapore has ever bothered to harvest the Bird’s Nest fern to eat. I wonder if this Taiwanese Shan Shu vegetable is the edible kind and the Bird’s Nest Fern of my Singaporean childhood is the inedible kind.
In any case, they don’t know what they are missing – a delightfully crunchy vegetable stir fried with fresh cut chili and small fish, done in the Taiwanese way.
2 bundles of Bird’s Nest Fern – washed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 chili – cut into slivers
5 Tbsp small fish (anchovies or ikan bilis)
2 cloves garlic – peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp preserved black beans or garlic black bean sauce
3 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 -2 Tbsp cooking oil
1. Blanch the Bird’s Nest Fern in boiling water for 5 seconds, drain and keep aside.
2. Rinse and pat dry the small fish. Stir fry the small fish, chili, black beans and garlic in 1 to 2 Tbsp cooking oil, using low heat.
3. Add in the Bird’s Nest Fern. Mix in the oyster sauce. Stir fry quickly using high heat. Add a few tablespoons of water if it is dry. Do not overcook the Bird’s Nest Fern as it will turn brown.
4. Dish up and serve with rice.
See stunning pictures of Taroko National Park here:
We have been trying to eat more healthy for the past year, so we have been cutting down on red meat. However, once in a while, I get this irresistible craving for a good steak or anything beef. I would feel hungry all the time and that hunger would not be satisfied unless I ate meat. Sound familiar? This is a very common Chinese dish and it doesn’t require a lot of beef but it hits the spot for me. It is also quick and easy to cook and goes so well with rice.
1 lb beef (flank steak or sirloin steak)
2 slices ginger
Marinade for beef:
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp oyster sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee brand Premium Oyster Sauce)
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 lb green vegetable eg lettuce or baby bok choy
1. Slice the beef thinly into 1 inch squares. (I use pre-sliced sukiyaki beef from the Japanese supermarket because I am lazy!)
2. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Marinate the beef for at least 1 hour. Add in 1 tsp cooking oil and mix well.
3. Wash and boil the green vegetables in boiling water for 2 mins. Drain and arrange the vegetables on a serving dish.
4. Combine all the ingredients for the seasoning sauce in a small bowl and put aside.
5. Heat up 1-2 Tbsp cooking oil and ginger in a frying pan and quickly saute the beef on high heat until it turns light brown, about 10 to 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and stir in the seasoning sauce immediately. It is ok to turn off the heat even when the beef slices are still slightly pink in the center part (95% cooked) because the residual heat from the frying pan will continue to cook it.
6. Pour the beef over the green vegetables and serve with rice.