Farmers Market Recipes from Tammy Wong of Rainbow Chinese

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

“People look at the vegetables [at the farmers market] but shy away because they aren’t sure what to do with them,” says Chef Tammy Wong of Rainbow Chinese.

A recent tour of the Minneapolis Farmers Market with Chef Wong became an excuse to cook with new vegetables, fresh peppers, and sweet potato (or yam) vines. Back in the restaurant’s kitchen, she used these vegetables to prepare three simple recipes that highlight the freshness of their flavors. Wong often makes dishes like these for catering orders, which give her the flexibility to cook more seasonally than her restaurant menu allows.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Peppers
Fresh peppers add heat to a variety of dishes including salsas and relishes. But what do you do with an entire tray of peppers? A quick stir fry and some good sea salt will do the trick. The result is an addicting dish that can be served as a starter, side dish, or even as a snack. Don’t be shy on the amount you make; these bite-sized bursts of salty goodness disappear as quickly as popcorn.

Fresh cayenne peppers can be intensely hot, but Wong suggests using the green, or immature, cayenne peppers for the recipe below. The peppers saute to a lightly sweet flavor and the charred skins add a smoky heat. You can also substitute the holy mole peppers, the pasilla-hybrid pepper generally used for its nutty flavor in the traditional Mexican mole sauces. Using this pepper will not produce the same smoky result as the cayenne peppers but a milder, sweeter dish.

Sweet Potato (Yam) Vines
With the abundance of leafy green vegetables at the market, these vines are often overlooked. Characterized by long, thin stems and large leaves, sweet potato greens are rich in nutrients and have a balanced, less bitter flavor than many greens. Chef Wong shares two recipes for these greens, one as a simple stir fry with oil and garlic and the other with the addition of a tangy bean sauce.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Salt and Peppers

1 tray cayenne peppers (use green or immature peppers), about 1 pound
3 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp sea salt

Wash whole peppers then slice on the diagonal into one inch pieces.* Shake pieces loosely and discard seeds that fall from the pieces.

Heat skillet or wok until hot. Add oil and swirl pan to coat until oil is almost smoking. Add peppers and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, until tender and pepper skins begin to char. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss to coat. Plate and serve immediately.

*For less intense heat when using cayenne peppers, discard the one inch piece closest to the stem, which contains the most concentrated amount of seeds.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Sauteed Sweet Potato (Yam) Vines

1 bunch sweet potato vines
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
3-5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbsp fish sauce or 1 tsp anchovy paste
pinch of sugar
To prepare potato vines, start at the tip (near the leaf) and break into 2-3 inch pieces. The stalk and skin should be tender and will break easily. Discard the remainder of the stalk when it becomes too tough to break off easily. Bring large pot of water (4-5 quarts) to a boil on the stovetop. Add leaves and stalk pieces and blanch for 1 minute, until leaves turn bright green. Strain, blot lightly to dry and set aside.

Heat skillet or wok until hot. Add oil and swirl pan to coat until oil is almost smoking. Add garlic, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Add potato vines, stir fry for 2-3 minutes, or until stalks are just tender and leaves are lightly wilted. Add fish sauce and sugar, toss to coat. Plate and serve immediately.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Sauteed Sweet Potato (Yam) Vines with Bean Sauce

1 bunch potato vines
3 cubes (about 1½ tbsp) fermented beancurd (miso can be used as a substitute)
½ tsp sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3-5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp sesame oil

To prepare potato vines, start at the tip (near the leaf) and break into 2-3 inch pieces. The stalk and skin should be tender and will break easily. Discard the remainder of the stalk when it becomes too tough to break off easily.

Bring large pot of water (4-5 quarts) to a boil on the stovetop. Add leaves and stalk pieces and blanch for 1 minute, until leaves turn bright green. Strain, blot lightly to dry, and set aside.

In a small bowl, mash beancurd (or miso) and sugar together.

Heat skillet or wok until hot. Add oil and swirl pan to coat until oil is almost smoking. Add garlic, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Add potato vines, stir fry for 2-3 minutes, or until stalks are just tender and leaves are lightly wilted. Add bean sauce and sesame oil, toss to coat. Plate and serve immediately.

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8 Comments

  1. The Salt and Peppers recipe is great! I bought Holy Mole peppers from Nao Tou Yang Farms after Chef Wong’s tour, so I can’t wait to try this out. Now, I’ll have to go back for the sweet potato vines . . .

  2. Thank you for these recipes. Love Rainbow Chinese and would love to cook like this. Are these peppers so hot that you have to watch hand-to-mouth contact during prep?
    Also, what do sweet potato vines look like?

    • Author

      I’m always cautious when prepping peppers. These are hot, so I would take caution to wash hands well after slicing or use gloves, as many people do. The sweet potato vines are shown in the picture series between the two recipes. They have long, thin stems and dark large leaves.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. […] market with a few of her Facebook fans and then spent time in the kitchen with her as she created a few recipes from the veggies at the market. Talk about another addiction – the Salt and Peppers recipe is so simple and ridiculously […]

  2. […] Restaurant & Bar, in Minneapolis. (She and Rainbow Chinese Restaurant’s Chef and Owner, Tammy Wong, are sisters. Their mother, who is almost 70, still works in the restaurant today. Of her mother […]

  3. […] wanted a bag of chili peppers. He had more than he could use. I pondered whether Tammy Wong’s salt and peppers recipe could be adapted to use Hatch chilies instead of cayenne peppers. In the meantime, our CSA box had […]

  4. […] removed. TLC comes in the form of care packages from the likes of Jamal Hashi of Safari Express and Tammy Wong of Rainbow Chinese. The post is a hell of a good read; here’s hoping Iggers is back to 100 percent soon, if he […]

  5. […] tried Frog Song’s vines in a stir fry from Katie Cannon. We had them with brown rice and Fuchsia Dunlop’s Pock Marked Mother Chen’s Bean Curd […]

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