Sat, Mar 03, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Ian’s Table: Weird but wonderful

Tatsoi is equally at home in an arugula and nut salad as it is in Shanghainese vegetable rice, and this level of versatility makes it a real performer in the kitchen

By Ian Bartholomew  /  Contributing reporter

Simple Vegetable Rice with Tatsoi


(Serves 4)

Vegetable rice is most famously associated with Shanghainese cuisine but its utility as a quick meal has made it such a family favorite that variations abound to such an extent that it is almost impossible to say exactly what is the authentic version. Not having eaten vegetable rice in Shanghai, my only experience of this dish is in Taiwan, and there are a number of establishments that purport to offer the real deal. My own problem with this classic is that I have invariably found it often appears as a damp mass in which neither the rice nor the vegetables are able to shine. Preparing it at home, I am able to adjust for this, cooking a drier firmer rice. Additionally, by using tatsoi, which is equally tasty raw or cooked, I am able to simply wilt the veg in the hot rice, preserving its fresh flavor. As for the meat, tradition dictates the use of Jinhua ham (金華火腿), a specialty of China’s Zhejiang Province, but my own preference is for cured pork belly. When using preserved meats, always ensure to use a high quality product, as some cheaper products are inclined to go over the top with preservatives and stabilizers. Artisanal products from brands such as Gui Lai Biao (桂來標), which operates out of Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖), is one that I personally use, but I am sure there are other excellent brands. Chinese sausage, particularly a type flavored with Chinese rose wine (玫瑰露酒), can be used to produce an even more fragrant version of this dish.


2 cups white rice (short grain)

2 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock or water)

100g cured pork belly

1 clove of garlic

4 stems spring onion

2 dried Chinese mushrooms

200g tatsoi


1. Place the 100g piece of cured pork belly in a pot of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.

2. Set aside and allow to cool.

3. Mince the garlic and chop the spring onions.

4. Soak the Chinese mushrooms in boiling water until soft, remove the stem and finely dice the flesh, squeezing out excess liquid.

5. Wash the tatsoi thoroughly and then chop roughly.

6. Finely slice the cooled pork belly.

7. Add a little neutral cooking oil to a pan and gently fry the garlic and pork belly over low heat until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and spring onions and mix, cooking for a further two minutes.

8. Wash the rice thoroughly then add the stock (or water) and the fried ingredients. Mix well and cook until the rice is done. Using a rice cooker is safest, but cooking in a pot works just as well. When the rice is done, add the tatsoi leaves and mix well. There will seem to be vastly too much of the greens but do not worry, they will cook down.

9. Cover and allow residual heat to cook the vegetables, or add a little water and cook for a couple of minutes if you want the vegetables cooked through. Serve warm.

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