Grilled Baby Bok Choy with Hoisin Sauce

Grilled Baby Bok Choy 1

Spring is here in the Midwest, my lovelies! At least, that’s what the Calendar says.

The Calendar and the Thermometer are having a disagreement. The Calendar says, “Yo, it’s March 22nd — it could rain, sleet, snow or blast sunshine at any minute. Or do all four back-to-back. Or switch it up from one day to the next. YOU don’t know, because it’s March, and March does whatever the hell it wants. Yo.

And the Thermometer fires back, “Oh, yeah? Well, you tell March to just try and snow when it’s 80-freakin’-3 degrees for a week straight. Word [crosses arms].”

I have no influence in weather wars — if I did, I would allow it to snow only for a brief period on December 24th and 25th and then never again — but I have to side with Thermometer on this one. For me, March (not April) is always the cruelest month — alternatingly damp and rainy and foot-deep snowy (and brrr cold either way) — but this year, March got his hat handed to him.

And I cheered enthusiastically from my spot in the very warm sun as my yard came to life in a way that usually doesn’t happen until May.

I was even giddy enough to give my grill a good cleaning. I know! That kind of giddy doesn’t come along very often, I can tell you that.

And if there’s one thing that a clean Weber and a sunny warm day demands, it’s grilled food.

Grilled Baby Bok Choy 2

Grilled fresh Spring veggies, like these beautiful baby bok choys? Even better.

Baby bok choy, a small, young Chinese cabbage with a bright, light flavor, can be consumed raw or cooked (lightly steamed, sauteed or grilled). An excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C and K, baby bok choy, like other Brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), is a cool-weather plant and can be found at its freshest in late winter/early spring.

Grilled Baby Bok Choy 3

So, as we rush head-long into Summer, I just want to give a little griller’s shout-out and remind y’all that the grill treats vegetables just as beautifully as it does any cut of beef. Fire-roasted smoky flavors bring out the oomph in most anything (even fruits and desserts — you haven’t had blueberry cobbler until you’ve had grilled blueberry cobbler).

As a double-bonus — and it’s odd to be thinking about strategies to keep the house cool in March, but plunging into day #3 of record-breaking 80+° temps, my finger has lingered over the AC switch more than once this week — grilling meals outdoors means a cool kitchen and a relatively simple clean-up. In this case, lunch — avocado crostinis, a small bowl of Moroccan-seasoned quinoa, and these bok choys — was on the table in under a half-hour.

Grilled Baby Bok Choy 4

A simple, but flavorful, hoisin marinade tops off these beautiful babies — a quick and stunning side to any meal.

Karen xoxo

VegetarianVeganPescatarianGluten-free

Grilled Baby Bok Choy

Prep Time: 15 minutes       Cook time: 10 minutes       Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
2 heads baby bok choy (a.k.a shanghai bok choy or baby pak choy)
olive oil, for brushing
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe hoisin marinade (recipe below)

Instructions:
1. Prepare grill for direct grilling; heat to medium-high.

2. Slice heads in half vertically through the stem end. Gently rinse bok choy heads, taking care not to break the stems from the head, and pat dry. Brush all sides and leaves (as best you can) with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Place on clean, hot grill, cut side down, positioning so the leaves are not over high, open flames. When the bulb becomes lightly charred with grill marks, turn over. Marinate the cut sides generously with the hoisin sauce.

4. As long as the leaves are kept away from open flame, they will attractively wilt and pull in on themselves, keeping the head nice and tight.

5. Turn once more when grill marks appear on the other side (cut side is facing down once again). Marinate the 2nd side with additional hoisin sauce.

6. Remove the heads from the grill and serve immediately, with the remaining hoisin sauce on the side.

Hoisin Marinade

adapted from epicurious.com

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons Dijon or honey Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

Place all ingredients except sesame seeds in a tall narrow container and blend with an immersion blender until emulsified (or use a regular blender). Stir in sesame seeds.

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