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Jonathan Day

Green Vegetables

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Chef, thanks for returning for this Q&A.

My cooking query concerns green vegetables -- broccoli, green beans and the like. I've tried just about every method of cooking them: roasting, steaming, various microwave techniques; Chinese-frying ... but if the goal is to keep them green and flavourful, I've always come back to bringing a huge pot of water to a furious boil, throwing in a lot of salt, and then putting in the vegetables.

Is there a better way? Or is the simple way the best?


Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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The short answer is yes for this reason. It's important that the water returns to the boil as quickly as possible - hence the big pot so that the cold veg make only a short-lived impact on the overall temperature. After cooking avoid any contact with acid at least until the last moment before they are to eaten. Lemon juice over the asparagus will turn it brown after a few minutes, presumably an acid sauce or dressing does the same.

Restaurants sometimes go in for what is termed blanching - dropping the vegetables in boiling water then lifting them into iced water to stop the cooking. This keeps the vegetables bright green but is otherwise pointless for the veg take as long to reheat as they do cooking from raw. They also taste less good and fresh this way.

I attended a meeting of physicists and similar clever sorts in Sicily a couple of years back - the molecular gastronomy thing - where the salt in boiling water was discussed at length. The conclusion -which was at odds with my own expectation - was that the salt in the water made no real difference and that traces of dilute salt on the veg surface were all that you ended up tasting.

I still put salt in the water though

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