Fuchsia Dunlop's Twice-Cooked Swiss Chard (Hui Gua Niu Pi Cai)
Chard is a mainstay in my kitchen during the long winter months. The fast-cooking greens are chock full of vitamins to counteract all of that rich comfort food. But even a tender green such as chard gets dull as we wait for the exciting vegetables of spring.
Leave it to Fuchsia Dunlop to reinvigorate chard by treating it like pork. In Every Grain of Rice, Dunlop presents an array of recipes using chard and other leafy greens, but it was the twice-cooked recipe that really caught my eye. The chard is, indeed, cooked twice (a quick blanch followed by a turn in simmering sauce). The real draw, however, is the brawny sauce: chilli bean paste, fermented black beans, garlic, ginger, chicken broth, and a generous pour of oil transform the green into an almost meaty dish.
Why I picked this recipe: I've eaten my fair share of twice-cooked pork at my favorite Chinese restaurants, so I was eager to apply these flavors to one of my favorite winter greens, swiss chard.
What worked: Once again, everything was on point. The chard was deeply savory, with a hint of spice from the chilli bean paste.
What didn't: Nothing; you may find it strange (as I did) to blanch the greens in unsalted water, but the intense saltiness of the sauce more than makes up for the lack of seasoning in the blanching water.
Suggested tweaks: You could use this sauce for any manner of vegetables or leafy greens. Blanch until they are tender, and toss in the simmering sauce at the last minute. Small pieces of tofu would also not be out of place here, should you want to turn this side into an entree.