I made ham steak the other day and, after the meal, I had half a pound of ham left. By itself it was not enough to feed three people, but with some creativity I could make a meal of it. Stretch the meat with some vegetables—add an interesting sauce and some rice—and you have something new and different.
Note: To make this dish Vegan, simply substitute firm tofu or tempe for the ham.
Having spent time in China, my “go to” technique tends to be a stir fry. A bit of meat, lots of vegetables and some blend of sauces. There are several standard Chinese sauces that are rarely used just on their own, but—mixed in different proportions—may be used to create a wide variety of interesting flavors.
For vegetables, I had some baby bok choi, onions, celery and some Persian cucumbers. I prefer using the small green bok choi, rather than the large white stemmed ones you find in Western supermarkets. Frying cucumbers may seem a bit strange to many Americans—I know I was a bit startled the first time it was served to me—but they are really quite good in a stir fry.
Karl’s Leftovers: Karl’s Ham and Baby Bok Choi Stir Fry
Stir Fry Sauce
½ medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
½ lb. baby bok choi, see directions on chopping
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2 Persian cucumbers, roll cut
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 Tbs. peanut oil
½ lb. ham steak, cut into medium bite sized pieces
1 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbs. cool water (optional)
1. Mix the sauce ingredients in a small cup.
Tip: You may substitute regular light soy sauce for the dark soy and sherry for the xiaoxing, if they are not readily available in your area.
2. Prepare all of the vegetables before you start cooking.
Tip: A stir fry takes only minutes to cook. There is no time to stop and chop, after the first ingredient hits the pan.
Note: You want to cut your vegetables into interesting shapes—if everything is cut the same they may cook at the same rate, but your dish will be visually boring. For the bok choi, I like to cut off the leave and chop them into two or three pieces. I then cut the stems vertically, this produces 2-3 flower like slices from each vegetable that make for a good presentation.
3. Put the peanut oil in a large sauté pan and heat it to shimmering over a medium high heat.
4. Add the ham and fry it briefly, until it is just starting to pick up some brown spots.
5. Transfer the ham to a plate and add the chopped onions to the pan.
6. Stir fry the onions until they are just starting to pick up some color.
7. Add the bok choy stems, celery, and cucumber to the pan and continue sautéing until the vegetables are almost soft, about 4-5 minutes.
Tip: Do not add the bok choi leaves to the pan at this time.
Note: The bok choi leaves cook very quickly and they will become overcooked if added too early.
8. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pan and add the garlic to the hole in the center.
9. Sauté the garlic for one minute, until fragrant, and then stir in the rest of the vegetables.
10. Return the ham to the pan and add the bok choi leaves.
11. Stir fry for one minute, until the bok choi leaves have started to wilt and then add the sauce in the bowl.
12. Continue stir frying for ½-1 minute more, until the bok choi leaves are fully cooked and the vegetables are well coated with the sauce.
Tip: If you feel the sauce is too thin, you may add just enough of the cornstarch mix to thicken your sauce to your desire.
13. Serve the stir fry hot over steamed rice.