In case you missed it, we here at Fork in the Road have been amusing ourselves with the challenge to end all challenges, the ultimate cheap-off, a friendly contest to devise the best $3 meal: The Three-dollar Throwdown. This is my entry.
But first, a bit of background. Sarah is a trained cook; Robert is a veteran food critic, which places me squarely in the role of underdog. I live on the verge of Chinatown–a block I’ve seen referred to as Little Chitaly–so I did my shopping close to home. And, while I can assure you that it is possible to buy three mini baby bok choy and a handful of dried shrimp, it may earn you a few grunts of disapproval.
Shrimp & Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry
4 oz dried rice noodles ($0.95 for 16 oz bag)
3 baby bok choy ($1.40 per pound, $0.10 each)
1/2 bitter melon, diced ($1.40 per pound, $0.80 each)
3 cloves garlic, minced ($0.60 for a pack of 5 bulbs)
3 tbsp mini dried shrimp ($3.80 per pound, I got $0.26 worth)
1/4 cup sesame or olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
(Total spent: $2.91)
In a medium-sized pot, bring a quart of salted water to boil. Add the noodles and let simmer until al dente. Remove from heat and drain.
Place mini dried shrimp in a bowl and cover with water to reconstitute. Let soak for 20 minutes.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat up oil. Add garlic, bitter melon, baby bok choy, salt and pepper, and saute for about 10 minutes until soft. Toss in drained noodles, then add reconstituted shrimp, as well as a healthy drizzle of the shrimpy water. Toss until shrimp is well distributed, remove from heat and serve.
Note: Dried shrimp come in different sizes. I got the smallest, which look like underfed pink larvae but come to life after reconstitution–not literally–to look somewhat shrimpier and a little less like sea monkeys.
Also note: This dish actually serves 2.