I recently received hon tsai tai in an Urban Acres share. This is a new and exciting veggie for me, so I did some research into what exactly hon tsai tai is. This green is edible from stem to flower and is part of the cruciferae family (along with kale, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard, turnips, and watercress). Hon tsai tai is jam-packed with phytonutrients and protein, making it an excellent veggie choice to add to any meal. The flavor has notes of mustard and it is the perfect addition to stir fry-dishes, salads, and savory soups. Here is what it looks like uncooked.
Having never eaten hon tsai tai before, I dug around the internet and found a great stir fry recipe that I slightly adapted to fit my palate. If you can’t find hon tsai tai (be sure to check Asian markets), Swiss chard would be a great substitute since the stems of Swiss chard are edible too! Best of all with this recipe, Nick didn’t even mention the fact that I snuck mushrooms in! This is a great protein and vitamin-packed Asian dish that sure beats Chinese takeout in health benefits any day, so go on, give it a try!
Hon Tsai Tai Stir Fry
Adapted from Adventuresome Kitchen
Makes 4 servings; 530 calories per serving
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 pound extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 ounce chopped crystallized ginger
2 carrots, sliced
2 teaspoon fish sauce
4 tablespoons gluten-free tamari sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3.5 ounces shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
8 oz (about 4 cups chopped) Hon Tsai Tai stems separated from the leaves and flowers- if you can’t find this green at your local grocer or farmer’s market, substitute any leafy green of your choosing.
In a small saucepan place quinoa and the 2 cups of water. Cover and turn to medium. When the lid starts to rattle, turn the heat to low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Keep lid on and pull from heat so the pan doesn’t burn.
Meanwhile, in a large wok or large saucepan add sesame oil and heat over medium. Add the tofu and red pepper flakes and sauté until the sides are golden brown and crisp, 8-10 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and stir until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
Add sliced carrots and Hon Tsai Tai stems and stir another 2-3 minutes. Add crystalized ginger, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and tamari sauce, stir another 2 minutes. While carrots are still crunchy add mushrooms. Continue stirring until carrots are soft and mushrooms have thoroughly cooked, about 2-3 minutes more. Just prior to serving add the Hon Tsai Tai leaves and flowers, or greens of your choice. Immediately pull from heat and continue mixing the greens into the stir-fry. The heat from the other ingredients will wilt the greens. Serve over quinoa.