I am surprised to hear that many people do not love eating broccoli, that green giant mushroom-like vegetable which is packed with goodness. Raw broccoli, while edible, may not be palatable to most of us, but cooked broccoli is one food you should give a try. And believe me, there are many ways broccoli can be combined with other foodstuffs -vegetables and fruits included – to give great-tasting food.
I would like to suggest 3 recipes in which broccoli is one of the main ingredients:-
1. BROCCOLI WITH BLACK MUSHROOM.
It is best to use small-sized mushrooms, each about 2-3 cm across, but if you only have the big ones, you need to cut them into smaller pieces. Whatever the size, mushrooms should be soaked in either cool or lukewarm water to soften. Of course warmer water could soften the mushrooms faster. Soaking also removes some of the smell and bitter taste inherent in raw mushrooms. Once the mushrooms turn soft, remove the stalks or stems, drain off the water and put one side.
Water is put to boil in a saucepan or a pot. The broccoli is washed and broken into its florets. Do not use a kitchen knife to cut the broccoli; use your bare hands to peel and tear off the florets so that each is about the same size. The ‘base’ of the broccoli should not be discarded as it can be eaten. Cut the remaining part of the base, if any, of the broccoli into thin slices. When water boils, add in all the florets and the sliced pieces of the base into it and let the contents simmer for about 3 minutes. Parboiling will destroy much of the nutrients within the broccoli. At the end of 3 minutes, drain off the water and place the broccoli florets on a plate, and arrange them in an outer circle.
We now prepare the sauce: dissolve 1-2 spoonfuls of corn-flour in cold water, add a little sugar and salt and heat in a saucepan over medium flame. When the liquid is about to boil add the treated mushrooms and continue to heat for several seconds. The resulting slightly starchy liquid together with the mushrooms is then placed nicely in the centre of the plate in which the broccoli florets have been put earlier. You could also add in shreds of carrot as garnishing.
2. BROCCOLI WITH SHRIMPS IN HONEY / MAYONNAISE
As in recipe 1 above, boil the broccoli florets in water for about 3 minutes and keep aside. Shrimps of about 4-5 cm in lengths may be used in this recipe. After washing the shrimps in water slightly marinated with salt, the shrimps’
heads are removed and the bodies de-shelled and each cut open using a pair of kitchen scissors to de-vein or to remove the visible entrails of the shrimps. After that, marinate the shrimps with drops of wine, lime and ginger tincture ( this may be made by crushing some ginger and adding a little water ) for a while. They are placed on a platter and then steamed over boiling water for about 5-7 minutes. Just before taking out the steamed and cooked shrimps, add honey, making use of the steam to heat the honey for a short while so that it does not become too viscous and thick. Mix well evenly. The whole content of steamed and honeyed shrimps can now be placed upon the broccoli and the finished product served.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to honey the shrimps, you could use mayonnaise instead. After the shrimps have been steamed as above, they are cooled and when cooled, mayonnaise is added to the shrimps, mixed well and the shrimps are then added to the broccoli which has been prepared earlier as before. Dashes of pepper powder may be added to the broccoli to make it less plain. This food is now ready for your enjoyment.
3. BROCCOLI WITH MANGO
The third broccoli dish is relatively simple to prepare: all you need is a few mango fruits, not too ripe nor too green. There is a great variety of mangoes: Indian, Thai, Pakistani etc. It is best to use mangoes which are ripe enough to be tender but whose texture is not be too smooth as to become too slippery to the touch. Mangoes which are over-ripe become too juicy and a little messy to handle. You do not have to cook the mangoes: just peel off and cut the flesh lengthwise or dice the flesh into 1-2 cm cubes, as you like. Store the pre-cut mangoes in the refrigerator long enough for it to become cold. When you are about to eat, take out and sprinkle some fine salt onto the mangoes. You then place the mangoes nicely among the broccoli and presto, you can now enjoy the meal.
As said earlier in the article, broccoli has been under-rated as a food item. It can be used as an ingredient in a great variety of ways in preparing great dishes because of its versatility. So the next time you go to the supermarket, don’t forget to get some!