New Use For Bagels

I’ve toasted them.

I’ve smeared them with cream cheese and jam.

I’ve piled slices of silky smoked salmon on them.

But until now, I had never stir-fried a bagel.

Yes, you read that right.

Of all the recipes in award-winning cookbook writer Grace Young’s new book, “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” (Simon & Schuster) that had me running to grab my wok — and there are many — the one that most intrigued me was this unusual one for “Stir-Fried Bagels with Cabbage and Bacon.”

Young discovered this dish in Beijing, where a creative group of homecooks apparently do indeed enjoy bagels in a stir-fry. This inspired use was prompted by the establishment of a bagel company in Beijing in the mid-1990s, begun by a Chinese-American woman who was born in Taiwan and raised in Brooklyn.

Two plain bagels get cubed and tossed into a hot wok with bacon, green cabbage, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorns.

This rustic, rather country-like dish reminds me a little of Thanksgiving stuffing  done Chinese-style. The bagel pieces remain soft, yet soak up all the lovely rendered bacon fat, giving the dish a rather salty richness with a subtle, tingling heat from the Sichuan peppercorns.

It’s a dish that will definitely make you look at bagels in a whole new light.

Stir-Fried Bagels with Cabbage and Bacon

(Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal)

Grace Young writes that if you use day-old bagels, sprinkle a tablespoon of water over the bagel-cabbage mixture before covering the wok.

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

1 dried red chili pepper, snipped on one end

2 slices ginger, smashed

1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns

5 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces (about 4 ounces)

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic

6 cups cubed green cabbage (about 1 pound)

2 large plain bagels, cut into 1/8-inch cubes (about 6 cups)

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce and vinegar.

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the oil, add chili, ginger, and peppercorns, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 10 seconds until aromatics are fragrant. Add bacon, reduce heat to medium, and stir-fry 3 minutes or until bacon is slightly crisp on the edges. Add garlic and stir-fry 10 seconds or until garlic is just fragrant. Add cabbage, increase heat to high, and stir-fry 1 minute or until cabbage leaves just begin to wilt. Swirl soy sauce mixture into the wok, add bagels, and stir-fry 1 minute or until well combined. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 1 minute or until bagels have softened. Uncover, sprinkle on the salt, and stir-fry until well-combined.

From “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” by Grace Young

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