I never knew celery could taste so good until I made this dish. It is based on a veggie side dish that I ate at Mission Chinese on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. As soon... as I tasted that crunchy stirfried celery, I knew I had to make my own version at home. It has now become one of my go-to weeknight sides as I always have the ingredients in my kitchen – nearly all of them qualify as pantry basics. Except perhaps the Chinese seasoning sauce. It is a light, slightly sweetened soy based sauce that I first tasted in Paris when staying with a Vietnamese family on an exchange. Evocative stuff I know, but these days you don’t have to have a Chinatown near you to find it, it’s easy to get online.
Heat the peanut oil in a wok over a medium high flame. When hot, add the garlic and as soon as it starts to color, about 30 seconds, add the diced shallot. Stir fry until until the shallot starts to color, about 3-5 minutes. Add the celery and the pistachios. Sprinkle with a little salt. Cook stirring until the celery is starting to get tender but is still very crisp, about 2 minutes.
Add 2 tablespoons of the water. As soon as it bubbles, add the Chinese seasoning sauce. Cook stirring until the liquid gets syrupy, about 2 minutes. The steam from this will finish cooking the celery. Add the remaining water and bring to a boil. Add the sunflower sprouts. Cook stirring until the sprouts'' leaves change color to bright green, but before they begin to wilt, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately with brown rice.
Chinese Seasoning Sauce is a light brown fermented sauce made of water, sugar and soy sauce. Golden Mountain is a commonly found brand.