Editor's note: Roz Weitzman has been working in China for seven years as an international school principal. An avid cook, Roz has epublished a cookbook entitled "Roz Weitzman's World of Chinese Comfort Food." It can be purchased at both Lulu and Amazon.
Since moving to Kunming she has begun to explore the cooking traditions of Yunnan. More of Roz's recipes can be viewed on her blog (requires proxy) and PDF versions of her book can be obtained by reaching her at roz[at]candismail[dot]com[dot]cn. Bon appétit.
On a recent trip to the countryside I was struck by how different a Yunnan farm is from the ones in my native Canada. Yunnan's mountainous terrain makes it almost impossible to find large stretches of flat land. Farms are nestled in the valleys or perched on hillsides and plots of land can be small.
During my farm trip we picked corn, potatoes, romaine lettuce, squash, eggplant, spicy peppers, cabbage, cilantro, beans, radishes mint and green onions — all in preparation for lunch. We spent an hour diligently cleaning the produce in a stream, while children ran up and down the hills feeding and chasing donkeys.
We barbecued corn in its husks and potatoes in their skins over an open flame. The kitchen had no running water, some curious flies and a huge wok built into the counter with a wood-burning fire underneath. It was a quintessential farm kitchen.
While we were cooking I remarked on the abundance of mint growing on the farm, explaining that it was rare and expensive in Beijing markets. When I mentioned that I love the taste of mint and use it often, I was promised a special dish. It combined mint and green onions, two flavors not often married in Western cooking. This is a quick and simple dish that makes an excellent accompaniment to a larger meal.
3 tablespoons oil
2-3 cups chopped fresh mint, leaves only
2-3 cups chopped green onion, both white and green parts
1-2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (optional)
Heat the wok and add oil. Wait until oil is hot and add the mint and green onions in equal proportions. Stir-fry for two minutes or until the greens are almost cooked, but still bright green in color. Add the remaining seasonings and mix thoroughly, continuing to cook for an additional minute. Transfer to a bowl and serve hot with other dishes and steamed rice. Enjoy!
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Mint image: wikipedia