Shopping the Farmers Market: Why Blog

After years of frequenting the farmers markets in NYC, but only buying a few supplemental ingredients here or there, I decided to be experimental and work dishes around what is in season or looks particularly mouthwatering at the market that day. Green seems to be the buzz word these days from NYC to the White House, and the eat local movement is in full swing. My attempt here is to buy as many ingredients as possible from a the farmers market, and then occasionally supplement with locally produced ingredients from chain markets around the city. Most of the recipes I post (except for the baking recipes) are either things I created myself, or variations on recipes I've found elsewhere. I hope that you take the recipes and shopping tips here and they inspire you to do your own local cooking.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Springtime for Stir Fry

Hey guys, I know it's been a while, but I promise this post won't disappoint. Since I had locked myself in my apartment for winter, I thought I'd bust out the new spring post with lots of food ideas. I'm also going to warn you that I accompanied tonight's dinner with copious amounts of champagne, so forgive me if there's a typo or two.

Since I hadn't been to a market for shopping in a month or so, I thought I'd hit the biggest one in the city and go to the Union Square market this week. Feeling a little out of practice I thought I'd check out the "what's in season" board. One nice bonus of the Union Square market is that they always have a chalk board telling you what the best thing to buy are at the very moment that you're shopping.

Today it was sugar snap peas, radishes, oyster mushrooms, free range chicken, and cilantro among others. Looking at the board I thought that a number of those ingredients would make for a good Asian stirfry, and decided to shop accordingly.

After scanning the whole market to see who had the best produce, I picked up cilantro for $1/bushel, 1/2 lb. of sugar snap peas for $6/lb., and 1/4lb. of baby bok choy for $2/ 1/2 lb.

If any of you have been following me for a while, you'll know that I'm a bit of a mushroom fanatic. Although I was originally thinking shiitake mushrooms, I couldn't pass up the oyster mushrooms once I saw that they were in season. I grabbed a half pound for $4.50, and headed over to pick up some gigantic scallions for $1.50, and spring garlic for $2.00.

I wanted to get some seafood so I headed to the fish stall, but almost everything was sold out by the time I hit the market at 3:30pm. So instead, I bought about a pound of shrimp at the local fish market in my neighborhood in Queens.

While perusing the stalls I did notice that there seemed to be an abundance of radishes right now, and Jersey heirloom tomatoes were starting to show, although I think it will be a few more weeks before these are really in season.

I did however, pick up some Jersey strawberries. They won't be in season for another couple of weeks, but they're already starting to show up at the markets. I'm a huge berry fan, and couldn't pass up the chance to have some fresh strawberries right off the wine. (In fact I'm eating some now while I type).

All in all I thought it was a good first trip back to the markets.

Today I purchased:

At the farmers market:
1 quart of strawberries
1/4 lb. of baby bok choy
1/2 lb. of sugar snap peas
1/2 lb. of oyster mushrooms
1 bunch of scallions
1 bunch of spring garlic
1 bunch of cilantro

At other local markets:
1 piece of ginger
1 lb. of uncooked medium shrimp

Supplementary ingredients I had at home:
Soy sauce
Oyster sauce
Sesame oil
Peanut or wok oil

Before I start the recipe I thought I'd wax poetic about strawberries. They're such a versatile fruit. They can be used in salads, sauces, cakes, pies, and really any place else you'd like to put them. I'm thoroughly enjoying them right now while I'm typing, but this morning I made a compote out of them and put them on top of my pancakes.

I took about 10 strawberries since it was just me, and quartered them. I threw them in a small bowl with about 1/8 cup of sugar and a little fresh squeezed lemon juice. I mixed them together, then let them sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to macerate. Then you can pull them out and serve them however you want. I like them chunky so I just squished them with a spoon, but if you want more of a sauce, you can puree in the blender or chop in a food processor. Either way, it makes for a delicious topping for your favorite pancake recipe.

Recipe: Shrimp Stir fry with oyster mushrooms, baby bok choy, and sugar snap peas.


1 lb of shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons of mirin
2 teaspoons of soy sauce plus 1 tablespoon
1 scallion minced
1 spring garlic minced
2 teaspoons of minced ginger
1/2 cup shrimp broth
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
2 teaspoons of oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of cornstarch
Sriracha to taste
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of peanut oil
Jasmine rice

In a small saucepan make the jasmine rice according to the package directions. I made about a cup since it was just for me.

At the same time (or ahead of time) make the shrimp broth. Peel the shrimp, saving the shells. Put 1 cup of water in a small saucepan with the shells. Heat on medium high until it boils. Turn down to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. When done, strain, and reserve liquid.

Chop vegetables according to ingredient list. Mix scallions, ginger, and garlic in a bowl. Mix shrimp with 2 teaspoons of soy and 1 tablespoon of mirin. Let marinade for at least 10 minutes.

Then mix oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar, shrimp broth, and cornstarch in a bowl.

Put 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or a large skillet. Heat over medium high heat. Once warm, throw in a little bit of scallion and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Throw in the mushrooms and sugar snap peas and stir fry until they begin to cook through. Add salt and pepper as well as 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce and mirin. Cook for another minute or two. Add in bok choy and cook for an additional minute.

Push veggies to the side of the wok, add another tablespoon of oil in the center, and add the shrimp. I salted and peppered them first. Cook for about 1 minute, just until the shrimp turn opaque.

Once this occurs, move the shrimp to the side of the pan as well. Add in the aromatics (ginger, garlic, and scallions). Smash for a second with a spoon. Then mix them in with the shrimp mixture. Cook for about 45 seconds. Mix the shrimp broth mixture again with a whisk. Then add to the wok. Cook for another 30 seconds, then add cilantro and sriracha. Mix together, then turn off the heat.

Once the meal is done cooking, scoop the rice into a shallow bowl. Spoon shrimp stir fry and sauce over rice. Sprinkle with a little more cilantro and sriracha to taste and serve.

I was very impressed with how tasty this meal was considering how easy it was to cook.

Welcome back to farmers market season!

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