I want to use more leafy green herbs to add flavor to stir-fries and such but don't know what else will work. I live near Chinatown- so obscure suggestions are welcome, too.
If you want to add some greens to your cooking, chinatown should have, Bok Choy, which would be awesome in your stir fry. Kai-lan, Gailan, or 'chinese broccoli, should also be available. It kind of looks like broccoli rabe. If your looking for flavor, try playing with Star Anise (one little star will go a long way), combining copped ginger and garlic and scallion.
Yum! I don't think of gailan as an herb, but it's a great vegetable to add to your mix. Mustard greens would be another thought, since your mission is to add greens. Basils are generally more Thai than Chinese, but I love basil, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and a little sugar with green vegetables--in that case, the basil is half herb/half vegetable.
That's a really good question to ask. Personally I don't think of cilantro as particularly Chinese. But you have to approach it from the fact that China is an enormous country with vastly different regional cuisines from Hunan to Szechuan. Depending on where you live you can most likely find bok choy, gailan and long beans in your supermarket. If you live in a large metropolitan area like New York or San Francisco or LA you can find some really crazy and delicious stuff. Factoid; one of my friends is a former credit manager for B of A in Asia and he told me that most of the kimchi produced in Korea is actually exported to China.
Fresh mint get's a surprising amount of play in Chinese cooking and it is not a flavor you would think of adding adding to meat dishes but tastes amazing. There is a dish from Guizhou province that is made by stir-frying thinly-sliced beef with a little dried chile and then tossing it with fresh mint leaves. In Guangxi province we were served a chopped roasted chicken that came with little bowls of dipping sauce made with soy sauce, slivers of ginger, and bruised mint leaves. You dip you the chicken in the bowls--so good! There is a also a salad from Yunnan province made with whole mint sprigs (trim the tough ends off) tossed with chili oil, minced garlic, and halved cherry tomatoes.
That salad sounds fantastic! And there are still cherry tomatoes and mint at the farmer's market. What do you recommend serving it with, Nate & Mary Kate? Also, do you keep the stems on the mint?
Yeah, the salad is made with about 3 cups loosely packed fresh mint sprigs (trim off the lower tough parts of the stems) and 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved. Heat up some vegetable oil in a skillet, drop in some chopped garlic and a chopped dried chile, and then remove the skillet from the heat. When the oil is cool, toss it with the mint and tomatoes, a little clear rice vinegar and kosher salt, until is everything is slick and coated.
I like to serve it with fish but I see you are vegan. There is a really tasty fish that is grilled in banana leaves from the same region (Yunnan province) as the salad and you could probably sub tofu for the fish. All you do is mash a couple fresh red chiles, minced garlic, minced ginger, salt, cilantro, and fresh basil in a mortar and pestle. Then whisk in some white wine and vegetable oil. Place the fish fillets or tofu in the center of a square of foil (or banana leaf) and pour over the sauce. Roll up the edges of the foil/banana leaf to seal in the fish/tofu and form a pocket, and then bake for 10 to 12 mins at 450 degrees until cooked through. Hope this helps!