Friday, August 15, 2008

An Olympic Stir-fry


Sleep patterns in our house appear to have regressed by at least ten years. We are being woken through the night and have found ourselves in front of the television at five in the morning. I blame two factors.The first is the arrival of an extremely naughty kitten and then there is the Olympics. The time zone difference with China is proving a challenge.
In honour of the first week of the 2008 Olympics Freddie asked for a Chinese meal.
"Let's have an Olympic stirfry," suggested Alex. "Five different vegetables for the five Olympic rings." And we were doing so well. We bought blue aubergine, yellow sweetcorn, green pak choi and red peppers. The whole thing nearly fell flat when we failed to find a black vegetable. We tracked down some dark-looking field mushrooms to save the dish. (Any other ideas for black vegetables?)
This was also an excuse to try out some British produced cold-pressed rapeseed oil which was sent to us to try out by Hillfarm. It is made by the Fairs family on their farm in Suffolk. They told me their favourite vegetable is roasted parsnips, (roasted of course in their very own oil) and their top tip for fussy eaters is to eat as a family and not to put too much on the plate. I agree with the first point but I am afraid that if I followed the second tip there would be official complaints. Half way through the meal, Freddie dropped his chopsticks to complain that there were in fact seven vegetables lurking in his stirfry. But he carried on eating so this was just a temporary glitch. The oil tasted perfect in the stirfry.
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Olympic Stirfry
Serves 4-6
400g Pak Choi
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced thinly
200g baby sweetcorn, whole
150g mangetout
2 large field mushrooms, thinly sliced
Half a medium aubergine, cut into one inch cubes
1 large carrot, cut into thin batons
30g freshly grated ginger root
3 tablespoons of rape seed oil
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sherry
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500g Turkey fillet, cut into thin strips
1-2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
Slice the turkey fillet into thin strips. Prepare the Pak Choi by cutting off the leaves and cutting them into wide ribbons. Cut the stalks in half or if they are larger, into quarters. Heat half the oil in a wok or large frying pan on a medium-high heat.
Add the turkey with the grated ginger root and crushed garlic and cubes of aubergine. Stir-fry for 3 minutes. When the turkey is cooked through and golden brown, use a slotted spoon to put it on a plate. Add the rest of the oil to the wok with the aubergines, the Pak Choi stalks and leaves, red pepper,mushrooms, and baby sweetcorn. Stir fry for 3 minutes at a high heat. Put the turkey back into the wok and add the soy sauce and sherry. Stir fry for a minute and sprinkle on top the sesame seeds. Serve with rice or noodles.

Any other ideas for black vegetables? ( And I don't mean rotten ones...)


  1. Ursula L10:59 PM

    For black vegetables - didn't you try black salsify a while back?

  2. Hmmmm...that's a tough one. I thought of eggplant, but you've got those in there (aubergines). I've grown a deep purple (almost black) pepper this year that might qualify.

    What a cute kitten!

  3. I too have been in a noodley mood! Someone suggested to be it was subliminal messaging from the olympics. I too used red pepper, mushrroms and pak choi. I made a sauce with vegetable stock, coconut mil and peanut butter. It was lovely!

    I have heard good things about rapeseed oil. I will have to try it.

    By the way, love the kitten. Does it have a name?

  4. Anonymous2:23 AM

    I think I've seen black radishes. I am a vegan and I've so enjoyed your article and challenge. You won't regret it. You will be healthy and look great. You won't be sorry. Keep up the good work! You can always fry onions in a cast iron frying pan, they can go almost black and taste wonderful.

  5. Murasaki Shikibu11:00 AM

    There is such a thing as 'Chinese black mushrooms' but not sure you will like them very much. ;) You need to purchase dried versions of these and soak them in water before using them.

  6. I don't know how well they would go in a stirfry, but Black olives come to mind here. Ohhhh and congrats on the new kitten!!! He reminds me of someone that frequents my kitchen.

  7. Charlotte at GBVC7:42 PM

    Black olives - not sure. But its worth trying. Seems very unchinese - but maybe olives are big there!
    The kitten is very sweet and a great addition to the family but a very free spirit.
    murasaki - I will look for these in our local Chinese store. Thank you!
    ANon - I havent seen black radishes but I will look in china town as they have a great selection of more unusual vegetables

    Holler - noodley moods are great.
    And I think the olympics are causing them.
    The cat is called Tibbs - short for Tybalt - we were feeling Shakespearean..

    Sally - black pepper - what does it taste like?

    Ursula - I had forgotten about that - good idea. THough they are a funny greyish colour inside.

  8. Dried woodear mushrooms are black, and would go in a stir-fry very well indeed. They have a great texture to them.

  9. You could use Chinese salted black beans in your sauce. Very black, and very Chinese, but also very salty. Rinse them before adding them to your sauce to cut some of the saltiness. I also agree with the recommendation for Chinese wood ear mushrooms. Dried shiitakes would also be nearly black.

  10. What a great way to celebrate the Olympics with kids!

    The only black idea I had was to substitute black sesame seeds, although not a vegetable, you do get the color sprinkled on top the dish.

  11. Charlotte at GBVC10:38 AM

    I havent seen Woodear mushrooms - but will be going to Whole Foods this afternoon and will look there
    Lori Lynn - Good idea - I have some black sesame seeds somewhere

  12. Anonymous5:33 PM

    Found your blog through! Congrats on the book. I''m a mom too, and would like to start from the beginning of your blog and go to the end. But you don't have an easy way to get!

  13. Not a veg, per se, but Chinese, and yummy : black sesame seeds.
    I love this site. I am a vegaholic with a child who has a serious vegetable aversion. Your family inspires me.

  14. Hi Charlotte:

    I have been enjoying your blog tremendously. I know you have been looking for a way to continue the challenge but give it a twist. Here is my idea: Why not look for veggie dishes from different countries? Wikipedia has a list:


  15. Black onion seeds. Black seaweed (not sure what it actually is, but one of the packet stir fries I sometimes buy has it in and it sort of looks like bladder wrack without the bladders). Ketjap manis (a thick, sweet soy sauce from Indonesia, and ambrosial on anything) is just about black, although not a vegetable. Wild rice is black, isn't it?

    Or you could just let things burn a little...

  16. Hi Charlotte,
    I was going to suggest black olives, but someone beat me to it. I think that using mushrooms was a great idea. How about other mushrooms: dried shitake, cloud ear, wood ear; canned staw?

    We had an Olympics theme Chinese dinner as well. Fortunately, the time difference was only 2 hours, so we didn't lose sleep over the games, unlike tour de france! We are watching the paralympics now.


  17. my family has really enjoyed your blog and recipes. Freddie has inspired two little girls who usually have no respect for boys their age.

    and your kitten is beautiful!!


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