I had often shopped at farmers’ markets before one came to our hospital in 2003, but I was never as aware of the rhythm of week-to-week changes in the availability of fresh food. Getting to know the farmers who grow my food has been a privilege. What I can touch, smell and taste at the market is the end result of a lot of work that is far different than what I know at the hospital.
Dr. Ted Tsukayama, an internist and expert in pharmacy and therapeutics, gave me the gift of a wonderful book by David Mas Masumoto called “Epitaph for a Peach.” The author is a farmer in California’s Central Valley who went away to college but was drawn back to farming. The book describes his yearlong attempt to keep his sweet and juicy Sun Crest peaches alive and to begin the conversion to organic farming.
A quote: ”I remember a Japanese saying about the power of bamboo. Its strength is not found in a rigid structure that blocks the wind; instead, the stalks bend with the wind. Their power resides in their very flexibility. I’m working on becoming like bamboo. I’ve abandoned my attempts to control and compete with nature, but letting go has been a challenge.” After reading this book, I look at our market’s weekly offerings with even more gratitude.
After three weeks of jalapeños, it’s time for a change of pace. Pick up a Napa cabbage, some scallions and a red bell pepper at your market as the foundation for an easy stir fry that takes 30 minutes or less. Consider adding a wok to your kitchen if you don’t cook with one already. It can be heated very hot and works well for this kind of cooking.
- 1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined (There are inexpensive plastic tools available at fish markets that make shelling and deveining shrimp simple.)
- 1 bunch scallions
- 2 Tbsp cooking sherry
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 big head Napa cabbage, quartered lengthwise, cored and chopped into 1-1/2” pieces
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1-1/2 tsp minced or grated fresh ginger (Tip: a peeled, frozen piece of ginger grates easily.)
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4” strips
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- Cooked rice
Begin cooking the rice.
In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with 1 Tbsp sherry, cornstarch, white pepper and salt.
Slice the white part and pale green part of the scallions into 2” long pieces then thinly slice the dark green part. (This is another recipe that doesn’t waste most of the scallion.) Rinse the cabbage in a colander.
Heat a wok or heavy skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add 1 Tbsp oil and heat until smoking. Stir fry shrimp until they begin to brown. Set aside in a clean bowl.
Reheat the wok and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. When just smoking, stir fry the ginger and 2” scallion pieces for a couple minutes. Add the red pepper and stir fry for about 2 more minutes until it begins to soften. Add the remaining sherry and cook until it evaporates. Add the Napa cabbage, still wet from the colander, and 1 Tbsp soy sauce. Cover and cook about 5 minutes until the cabbage is tender. Add the cooked shrimp and cook uncovered for about a minute. Sweep in the dark green sliced scallion and serve over rice. Be proud of yourself for having tried a new type of cabbage.