Mrs. MM and I were based out of Singapore for many years starting the early 1990’s. Every time we needed a quick, fast, relatively healthy and economical meal, we either got some Hainanese Chicken Rice or some char siu (barbecued) pork sliced and served over rice, with a side dish of choy sum with oyster sauce. It became our equivalent of fast food, the Big Mac or Chicken Joy proxy. They had a cafeteria-style eatery on the second floor of the departure area of Changi airport where I indulge in a dish of char siu and coy sum, while in transit to the numerous cities I had to do business in.
It was always comforting to sink my teeth into the firm-ish stems of choy sum (or gai lan for that matter) , similar to other oriental dark leafed cabbages or broccolis that are apparently so incredibly nutritious and beneficial. It was a nice yin to the yang of roasted pork loin or belly. :)
Choy sum (Brassica chinensis) has a “pale green, long, medium-size stems with rounded pale to mid-green leaves. It may show small yellow flowers at the tips of inner stems” according to The Encyclopedia of Asian Food and Cooking by Jacki Passmore. It isn’t common in local wet or weekend markets, except those catering to the Chinese community. I love choy sum and wish it were more readily available. So when I spotted a whole pile of choy sum at my Suki, Mary’s stall at the FTI market, I bought several bunches.
Simply wash the greens thoroughly and split the larger stems in half, lengthwise and blanche in some chicken broth just long enough to soften the stem, but still leave some bite, say a minute or so. Drain and add some oyster sauce and toss. Serve hot or warm. A little drizzle of sesame oil works as well. It is so simple, yet so satisfying.