One of my favorite dishes growing up on the islands was when mom would make pak choi with leftover stewed pork. The slight crunch from the pak choi (not over-cooked) combined with the flavors brought to the game by the tender pieces of stewed pork with hints of ginger.. I may have to get that one done very soon as I now have a craving. Back to the pak choi with salted fish recipe… This version is just as tasty, as I find that the bits of salted cod brings it’s own unique flavor to the finished dish.
You’ll notice that I added this recipe to the vegetarian section as the salted fish can easily be omitted with great results. I would just double up on the onion and garlic for added flavor.
2 lb baby pak choi
1 cup prepared salted cod
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1 large onion (diced)
4 cloves garlic (diced)
2 tablespoon olive oil
Optional – Cashews and/or sliced almonds
Double wash the pak choi as there’s usually sand/dirt between the stems and drain, then chop into 1/4 inch pieces (cut across into ribbons). You’ll need to boil the salted fish (cod) then rinse and shred. The boiling will remove most of the salt it was cured in and help hydrate it a bit. If you don’t boil the salted fish in water before using it will be too salty for use. Watch this video if you’re unfamiliar with working with salted fish (click link) : How To Prepare Salted Fish. Try to purchase boned salted fish to avoid having to pick out the tiny bones.. but still keep an eye out for any bones which may still be present in boned saltfish.
Now heat the oil on a medium flame in a wide pan and add the diced garlic and onion. Reduce the heat to low and slowly cook for 3-5 minutes. Then toss in the bits of salted cod (any dry salted fish) as well as the black pepper and with the heat still on low cook for another 2-3 minutes The goal here is to get a ton of flavor created before adding the chopped pak choi.
Raise the heat to medium and start adding the chopped pak choi to the pot. It will wilt as it cooks so don’t get alarmed when you get the feeling it won’t all fit in your pan. Top with the scotch bonnet pepper and stir well. Do not cover the pot or you’ll risk having too much moisture/liquid form.
Cook with the pan uncovered for 5-7 minutes or until you get the desired texture you like with your pak choi. I like it with a slight crunch. You’ll notice that I didn’t add any salt to the dish as the remaining salt from the salted cod will be enough to season this properly.. but do taste and adjust accordingly.
If you want to add some cashews or sliced almonds, you can do so the final 2 minutes of cooking. This will add a lot of texture to the dish (and protein). Remember when working with scotch bonnet (or any hot pepper) to wear gloves if your skin is sensitive and do wash your hands with soap and water immediately after. Also note that the scotch bonnet is optional and do not include the pepper’s seeds if you’re concerned about the raw heat. The seeds and white membrane surrounding the seeds is where the majority of heat will be.
This is a wonderful dish to have with steamed or boiled rice, works well with roti and other flat breads and if all fails.. make a sandwich with it. Superb! Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. Oh yea! Leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.