Swiss chard with Chinese sausage

August 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

Yesterday was my first trip to the local farmer’s market. I’ve been to the large one in my hometown but never to the one here near my school in the Midwest because I’d either oversleep the time, or was out of town. However, I am so happy I grumpily made it out of bed and to the market, because I found so many gorgeous vegetables and a lot of other foodstuffs – they had bread, homemade tortilla chips, pies and other sweets, cheese, and sausages in addition to fruits and vegetables.

However, I restricted myself to two reusable cotton bags of produce, because otherwise I’d find myself drowning in vegetables. The first thing I cooked was Swiss chard. Isn’t it stunning? It’s like eating crayons, only, you know, healthy and tasty…and actually edible for those of us not in kindergarten!

Anyways, I decided to stir-fry it with some Chinese sausage. I like to serve the Swiss chard and Chinese sausage mixed in with noodles, but it’s also good with rice. I don’t recommend using seashell pasta like I did – spaghetti or linguine or any long noodle, Asian or not, works much better – but hey, this is what I had in my pantry. It still tastes great, though is more challenging to eat with chopsticks; I opted for a fork.

I also recommend doing all preparation work before starting to cook, as this dish assembles very quickly – I was actually done cooking the chard and sausage several minutes before the pasta had finished boiling.

First, begin preparing your noodles or rice according to package directions. Then, wash your Swiss chard, and then slice into one-inch pieces.

You may want to wash the chard again after slicing. A salad spinner makes this job easier – add water, swish, pour away excess water, then spin dry. Set the chard aside until you’re ready to cook.

Then, grab some Chinese sausage. I like this brand, Kam Yen Jan, mainly because my mom bought it for me to take back to school. It’s a mixture of pork and chicken, and I think it’s Cantonese. You might only be able to find Chinese sausage at an Asian grocery, so ask for recommendations if you don’t see this brand.

I thinly sliced three sausages (about five ounces). Set aside.

Take a large clove of garlic (mine also from the farmer’s market!), and grate on a microplane grater. The grater is shown upside down in the photo, by the way. I like to grate the garlic because it really flavors the oil well, plus is easier than mincing, just make sure you watch your fingers and fingernails. I don’t have a great knife nor knife skills, and this is a great trick for including a nice hint of garlic.

In a large skillet, heat up a tablespoon or so of oil to medium-high. I usually use canola, but mild extra-virgin olive oil works in a pinch. Add in the sausages and garlic “paste” and cook, stirring often, for about five minutes.

Then, once the sausage is nicely browned, add in a tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce, a teaspoon or two of sugar,

a few tablespoons of water, and the Swiss chard.

Stir it all together, and add in a teaspoon of chili-garlic sauce, and stir again. I like just the smallest hint of heat for this dish; the chard is the real star here – slightly bitter yet a bit crunchy and contrasted nicely by the crisped sausage.

You really only want to cook the chard itself for maybe two to three minutes on medium-high heat – with thin-stemmed chard it really doesn’t need much heat to get it to slightly wilt and absorb the other flavors.

If the pasta or rice isn’t ready, remove the chard and sausage mixture from the heat and set aside (cover the pan to keep it warm). If you’re using pasta, drain it, and then mix it together with the chard in a large bowl. Otherwise, just pile up some rice and top with the chard.

Drizzle with a tablespoon or so of toasted sesame oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Swiss chard with Chinese sausage

Serves four

Ingredients

  • A large bunch of Swiss chard, sliced into one-inch pieces
  • About five ounces of Chinese sausage (I recommend Kam Yen Jan brand, made from pork and chicken), sliced thinly
  • One large clove of garlic, minced finely or grated
  • One to two tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (I recommend Kikkoman’s)
  • One to two teaspoons sugar
  • One teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
  • One to two tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper, freshly ground, to taste
  • Rice or pasta/noodles, prepared according to package directions

1. Prepare pasta or rice according to package directions. Wash Swiss chard carefully to remove grit. Slice into one-inch-wide pieces. Blot or spin dry in a salad spinner to remove excess water. Set aside.

2. Thinly slice Chinese sausage. Mince or grate garlic. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat up a tablespoon of oil to medium-high heat. Add sausages and garlic, and cook until sausages are lightly browned, or about five minutes.

4. Add in soy sauce, sugar, sliced chard, and stir. Add two to four tablespoons of water, to prevent sticking.

5. Stir in chili-garlic sauce. Cook for about two minutes total, or until chard is just wilted.

6. If using pasta or noodles, drain and then mix in chard and sausage.

7. Drizzle over toasted sesame oil, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot!

Note: this recipe is gluten-free if you use gluten-free soy sauce (Kikkoman’s low sodium is not gluten-free), and serve with rice or non-wheat pasta. Rice noodles work great with this recipe, and are also more authentic than seashells! However, rice noodles are more expensive around here than back at home where there is a much larger Asian community, so rice may be the more affordable option for your dietary needs depending on where you live.

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