In the past two months, I've been in Taiwan for six weeks for work, so I haven't been able to cook, but now I'm back and fully inspired! My brother's girlfriend has been making loads of pasta in the past few months ever since she got Marc Vetri and David Joachim's Mastering Pasta, and I've basically been dying to have a culinary competition with her. Unfortunately, she is a surgical nurse who lives in Boston, so she is busy and we can't exactly visit each other to have taste tests, so I decided to have a one-man competition with myself instead! The goal was basically just to make the best dish I could.
In Taiwan, pretty much I only eat dumplings and noodles because obviously they are the best, and my favorite versions of both are prepared simply tossed in chili and garlic oil. I have made some updates for this dish, and I think they all payed off. We all know bok choy is gross, but caramelized with brown sugar and soy sauce it lends a nice vegetal relief to the mega-strong flavors winding their ways through this dish. Oh, and what are those flavors? Lemongrass-infused chili oil coats every surface of the pasta, highlighted by raw garlic and grilled green onions, and brought to life by lime juice.
Most importantly, this gnocchi took me four tries to get right. It's essentially impossible to make. I highly recommend using store-bought gnocchi if you ever decide to make this dish yourself.
Butter Count: Oil
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks lemongrass
1 package store-bought gnocchi
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 bok choy
2 green onions
2 Tsp chili oil (I use Dynasty brand)
1 clove garlic, minced
1. Remove the outer leaves of the lemongrass and chop it into 1-inch pieces. Crush the segments with something heavy like a mortar and pestle or a large pot to release the oils. Add the lemongrass and oil to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and cook until they float. Transfer the gnocchi to a bowl using a slotted spoon.
3. Add the soy sauce to a saucepan and sprinkle the brown sugar over it evenly. Turn the heat up to medium. Slice and wash the bok choy, then place it cut-side-down on the brown sugar and soy sauce. Cover the pan and cook about 5 minutes until the bottom of the bok choy is deeply brown, almost burnt looking. Transfer the bok choy to a plate to cool slightly.
4. Place the two green onions over an open flame (i used my stove, but a grill or a torch can also be used). Turn with tongs until evenly scorched. Transfer to a cutting board and slice thinly.
5. Add the chili oil and garlic to the gnocchi and toss well. Strain the lemongrass oil over the bowl and toss again. Sprinkle the green onions over the top. Juice the lime over the bowl. Throw the bok choy on top and enjoy!