I don’t like to admit it, but vegetable side dishes sometimes get short shrift when it comes to my meal planning. I’ll often get so involved with making an entree that come dinner time, I’ll quickly steam up some greens or just forgo them altogether. Not that anything is wrong with steamed broccoli or spinach, but sometimes they get, well, monotonous.
Lately, I’ve found myself trying to come up with a new vegetable side for Southeast Asian entrees such as Vietnamese Clay Pot Chicken and Coconut Chicken Adobo. I’m used to steaming or just stir-frying bok choy with a bit of soy sauce or fish sauce, but decided earlier this week to make a fragrant coconut-y version with coconut milk and toasted coconut flakes. It came out so well the first time I made a few other adjustments such as adding sesame oil and sesame seeds.
It’s a very simple side that looks impressive on the dinner table too. The aromas of coconut and sesame blend really well together, and the sauce is delicious on its own or poured over noodles or rice. In fact, with the leftovers, I made an impromptu noodle soup for a quick lunch by reheating the bok choy and coconut sauce, pouring it over boiled noodles, and adding a bit more salt and pepper.
Coconut Bok Choy
Serves 4 as a side
- 2 tablespoons coconut flakes
- 2 pounds baby bok choy, hard ends trimmed (should have about 1 1/2 lbs after trimming)
- 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup coconut milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
- In a dry skillet, toast the coconut flakes over medium heat until they start to turn golden around the edges but are not yet brown, about 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- In a wok or large skillet, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly wilted. (If you’re using larger baby bok choy, tongs may be easier than a spatula.) Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 2 minutes, until the bok choy is mostly tender but the stems still have some crunch. Adjust the flavor with salt and pepper if needed.
- With tongs, carefully transfer the bok choy to a serving dish and ladle the coconut sauce over the bok choy. Sprinkle the white sesame seeds and toasted coconut flakes on top and serve.