Okay Chicagoland, we get it now. Afternoon trips to the beach, Saturday morning shopping for fruits and veggies at the farmer’s market, neighborhood art festivals nearly every weekend, dinners on patios with a sweater in case it gets chilly when the sun sets—summertime is why people live here. And we are enjoying every single second of ours. One of our favorite summer activities is finding new ways to cook the vegetables we pick up from the farmer’s market each week. This recipe from Martha Stewart has become one of our go-to side dishes of the season because it’s easy to make, it complements a variety of main courses, and the char flavor from the grill makes it taste like summer.
This recipe would work with regular bok choy as well, but as Martha herself says, “Baby bok choy is more tender than the regular size.” We agree. Plus, the baby-sized versions of most things are cuter than the full sizes. Trim off any wilted outer leaves or portions of leaves, then cut each bok choy lengthwise down the middle.
Rinse each half well to get rid of any dirt or grit.
Whisk together the sauce ingredients: rice vinegar (Martha uses white wine vinegar, but we prefer rice vinegar because it’s a bit less acidic); sriracha (or whatever kind of tomato-based chili sauce you like); light brown sugar, vegetable or canola oil; and salt & pepper. Be sure to whisk until all the brown sugar and salt have dissolved. Also be sure to use a large enough bowl to allow you to dredge the bok choy halves through the sauce prior to and halfway through grilling. (Inexplicably, I whisked the sauce in a too-small bowl—despite the presence of the perfect-sized bowl right there next to the sauce ingredients—and I had to transfer the sauce to the bigger bowl. #dishesFAIL.)
Heat the grill to medium heat.
Dredge each bok choy half through the sauce until coated, then place the bok choy cut-side-down on the grill over indirect heat.
Grill the bok choy for about 5 minutes.
Then dredge each half of bok choy back through the sauce and place the bok choy back on the grill, cut-side-up.
Continue grilling until the bok choy are barely tender — about 5 more minutes. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the bok choy and serve. We love how the flavors are equal parts mild and complex, with a touch of caramelization from the brown sugar, a hint of spice from the sriracha, and the slightly nutty taste of the bok choy. Midwestern summers don’t last nearly long enough, so we will continue to enjoy the heck out of ours every which way we can, including lots more farm-fresh vegetables cooked on the grill.