Baby Bok Choy with Whole Garlic

Adapted from the recipe for Greens with Whole Garlic in Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach

I love the technique Meehan uses here for caramelizing the garlic cloves (along with his description of how to do it that why and why). Initially I was worried the whole cloves would be hard on the inside and harsh-tasting, but they were soft and supple, with wonderful flavor. His recipe calls for bok choy, baby bok choy, pea greens or spinach. I only tested it with bok choy, but I'm guessing it'll work just as well with the other vegetables.

*To make this a vegan dish, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons canola oil

6 garlic cloves, peeled but whole

1 pound baby bok choy (halved lengthwise) 

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chicken broth

Instructions

1. Pour the oil into a wok and add the garlic cloves. Set the wok over medium heat and warm the oil so the garlic sizzles. Turn the cloves, caramelizing them evenly, for 2 to 3 minutes. (Note that if you're not cooking in a wok, maybe you wanna cock the pan up sideways so the oil pools around the garlic cloves during this stage, to imitate wok-ish proportions. There's a subtle difference to cooking something in even a minor depth of oil – as there would be in the wok – in that the oil is going to get less hammered during the browning process and pick up more and better garlic flavor.)

2. Add the bok choy and salt toss to coat the greens in the oil. Add the broth and cover the wok, cooking the bok choy until wilted and just tender, about 5 to 7 minutes (depending on the size of the bok choy). Serve the bok choy with the garlic cloves.