Ginger, spring onion and garlic have a natural affinity with green vegetables of any sort, but the saltiness of the fish sauces with which Thai and Vietnamese cooks season their food do much for cabbage leaves. I often serve these with roast duck, which appreciates such seasoning, or as side order for a mushroom stir-fry hot with chillies and soy.
4 handfuls of mustard greens, gai lan or small cabbage leaves
2 large cloves garlic
a thumb sized knob of ginger
6 spring onions
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
a tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
Achieving the perfect results
Put a saucepan of deep water on to boil. Salt it lightly. Wash the leaves thoroughly. Peel the garlic and the ginger. Finely chop the garlic, shred the ginger into matchstick-like strips. Trim the spring onions and cut each into two or three.
Warm the oil in a shallow pan or wok. Toss the garlic, ginger and spring onions till deep gold, verging on being lightly browned and fragrant. Drop the cabbage leaves, whole or shredded as you wish, into the boiling water. Leave for only a minute or so before draining. Pour the fish sauce in with the garlic and ginger– it will spit and sizzle – then, toss with the hot cabbage leave and eat.