And that difference is the fried shallots. I wanted to add the shallots to the stir fry, but I was afraid they would just disappear into the mix if I cooked them with the bok choy. I remembered an article I had read a few years ago in Saveur magazine about an Indonesian method of frying shallots. In my memory, it was a simple process of slicing a bunch shallots as thin as possible and frying them in peanut oil. I decided to try the method with one shallot.
I cut the shallot in half lengthwise, and then each half as thin as I could across the width. The slices were wet and I was afraid they would clump up when I put them in the oil, so I added a heaping teaspoon of cornstarch and mixed them well. My hope was that it would keep the shallots from sticking together, and would give them a little extra crisp.
And I was right. I fried the shallots before I stir-fried the bok choy, and let them drain on a paper towel while I prepared the rest of the dish. They made for a crunchy, delicious topping for the bok choy and added only a few minutes to the prep time.
The original recipe (which I found online) makes enough of the shallots to last for a few weeks, and calls for an inch of peanut oil. But I found it easy enough to fry them in a tablespoon of oil and to just make what I needed for this dish. And the cornstarch made them extra crispy.
FRIED SHALLOTSMakes about 1/4 cup
Cut a shallot in half lengthwise, and then into slices as thin as you can make them. Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of cornstarch over them and mix together until each slice is coated. Heat a wok until it is smoking. Add about a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add the shallots and let them sit for a few seconds before stirring them, them stir continuously until they have browned. Remove from the wok and drain on a paper towel. Let cool.
adapted from Saveur Magazine, Number 94 (2008)