I had slight misgivings as I was shredding savoy cabbage for this stir-fry. Perhaps adapting Leela’s stir-fried Chinese morning glory (one of my favourite dishes!) for this sulphurous leaf was not a good idea after all….

But I needn’t have worried: the cabbage turned deliciously savoury-sweet and tender, with a flick of bright red chilli and lilac-skinned garlic providing colour and fragrance. It’s completely satisfying served just as it is with some rice or congee, but the addition of a little minced pork is also delicious. On the other hand, the dish can be made completely meat-free by using mushroom sauce rather than oyster. You can also use any fairly sturdy vegetable such as broccoli (either Chinese kai lan or European florets), brussel sprouts or asparagus.

By the way, Thai fermented soy bean paste is easily found in any East/South East Asian supermarket; you could try using any sort of salty bean paste, which would result in a rather different (but likely still delicious) flavour profile.


Recipes: Quick Thai Stir-fried Vegetables with Garlic and Chilli

Serving Size: 2 - 3 as a side dish with rice or congee


  • . About 200g - 300g savoy cabbage or vegetable of your choice, washed and dried very well
  • . 1 - 2 bird's eye chillies, smashed but left whole
  • . 1 - 2 medium cloves garlic, also smashed
  • . 2 teaspoons oyster sauce (or mushroom sauce)
  • . 2 teaspoons Thai fermented soy bean paste
  • . 2 teaspoons fish sauce (or ¼ teaspoon sea salt)
  • . ½ teaspoon caster sugar
  • . 2 tablespoons water or chicken/vegetable stock
  • . 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, melt the butter over a medium heat.
  3. When it's hot, add the sliced leeks and cook, stirring constantly, until the slices begin to fall apart into soft rings.
  4. Add leeks to the soup, simmering for a few minutes until just tender. They won't look particularly soft, but the texture will be very silky upon eating.
  5. In the same buttery frying pan, briefly sauté the corn before adding it to the soup.
  6. Pour in the milk, then put the gammon pieces into the soup.
  7. Bring back up to a gentle simmer.
  8. Finally, add the miso: pour a ladleful of soup into a small bowl or cup, then add 1 tablespoon miso to this portion of liquid, blending well with a spoon.
  9. Pour this mixture back into the soup, then taste to see if you want more miso.
  10. When you’re happy with the seasoning, serve the soup right away with bread or rice.

Image courtesy of Pear Nuallak

About The Author

History of Art graduate from SOAS (jointly with UCL). I cook, eat, and observe the world. Then I write about it and share it with you. This is a unilateral decision.

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