I admit it: broccoli is not my favorite vegetable. I cooked it for many years because it was one that the children would eat, but I was unimpressed. Lately I’ve been cultivating a new and improved relationship with broccoli, and all the other broccoli-related greens. One of our favorite pasta dishes is orecchiette with rapini and sausage. I like to stir-fry broccolini with chiles and garlic. Sometimes these greens end up atop a pizza, complimented by the taste of melting rich cheese. So, by adding my favorite broccoli “flavor pals” to some lightly steamed florets, I came up with a new and delicious way to prepare ordinary broccoli.
This is a delicious variation on what is usually a stir-fry dish. The broccoli is very briefly steamed, then tossed with an aromatic sauce flavored with soy, garlic, honey, ginger, orange zest, and chili. The garnish is toasted cashews and, for more green, thinly sliced scallions. It’s a great side dish for chicken, pork, or fish; add a few strips of seared steak and voila: Beef and Broccoli! Give it a try, it will make you swoon for broccoli. I promise.
Steamed Broccoli with an Aromatic Sauce
- ⅓ cup cashews
- 1½ pounds broccoli
- ½ cup light chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons ShaoXing cooking wine (or sherry)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- Freshly ground black or white pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1 generous teaspoon potato starch (or cornstarch)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- A 1-inch chunk of ginger root, peeled and cut into very fine matchsticks
- ½ of a 3-inch green serrano chili, sliced thinly crosswise, with seeds
- Thinly sliced green tops of 2 scallions
- Toast the cashews in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then chop coarsely. Set aside. Rinse the broccoli and cut it into florets. Place in a steamer and steam only until the broccoli is bright green. This will happen very quickly; the broccoli should stay firm and crunchy. Spread it out on a plate or small baking sheet to prevent further cooking.
- In a small bowl mix together the stock, soy sauce, ShaoXing wine (or sherry), honey, orange zest, and a few grinds of pepper. Taste, and add a couple big pinches of salt. The sauce should be on the salty side at this point. Add the potato starch and stir to dissolve. Set close to the stove.
- In a wide 10 or 12-inch skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the butter and when it melts and sizzles, add the chopped garlic, ginger matchsticks, and sliced chili. Stir and cook only until the mixture is aromatic and the garlic is very slightly golden. Quickly stir up the sauce mixture and pour it into the skillet. Let the sauce bubble and thicken slightly, stirring all the while.
- Add the steamed broccoli to the skillet and toss and stir together with the sauce. Try to coat each floret with some of the aromatic mixture. Allow the broccoli to warm up in the sauce for a few minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with the chopped cashews and the sliced scallion greens. Enjoy!