We rarely think of watercress as anything but a salad or soup ingredient. But watercress lightly cooked as a vegetable still retains a pleasant crunch and a delightfully peppery flavor.
This is one of our favorite dishes at our favorite Chinese restaurant. My re-creation is quick and simple, suitable for a weeknight. —Savory
- Prep time 5 minutes
- Cook time 5 minutes
- Serves two
watercress, washed and cut into 4-inch lengths
canola or peanut oil
minced ginger root
red pepper flakes or cayenne
light soy sauce
Chinese cooking wine
a few drops
hot-pressed sesame oil--optional
- Combine soy sauce and cooking wine with cornstarch in a small bowl.
- Heat oil in wok over high heat. (I often use a cast iron skillet for stir-frying, but a bunch of watercress is bulky to start with, and though it wilts down on cooking like most greens, without a wok much of it would wind up on the stovetop and floor.)
- Add the ginger, garlic, and red pepper. Stir till fragrant (perhaps 30 seconds).
- Add the watercress and stir immediately and continuously. It should wilt down in a minute or two. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water and cover for half a minute, but the leaves should release water as they wilt.
- When the stems are slightly wilted but not limp, re-suspend the cornstarch in the soy sauce mixture and add to the wok. Give it a quick stir and serve immediately over rice, drizzling a few drops of sesame oil over it if desired.
- Don't overcook this. The color should still be bright green and the stems al dente. Cooking time should be under 3 minutes.