Barbara Hansen’s Shrimp and Bok Choy Bowl

A Tribute to Barbara Hansen: Shrimp and Bok Choy Bowl


LOS ANGELES – On June 27, 2022, Barbara Hansen featured this recipe at, her international food blog. Hansen was a James Beard award winner and one of the first food writers to bring attention to international cuisines in Los Angeles through her years of work at the Los Angeles Times. She covered everything from Thai, Armenian, Japanese, Korean, French, Italian, Greek, Indian, Oaxacan, Mexican, and Salvadoran food, and published a cookbook on California cuisine. In 1969 alone, she wrote about Israeli consulate dinners, soul food, Egyptian cuisine, Colombian food, the regional antojitos of Central America, and Filipino restaurants, to name a few.

Hansen died at the age of 90 on January 28, 2023 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center following a fall she had suffered earlier.

A supporter of Mexican and Asian cuisine, she said. “I love these other cultures and cuisines. We are lucky in Southern California with the variety of amazing, diverse ethnic foods available.” She shopped all over for fresh fruits and vegetables, from local farmers markets to supermarkets, where the  produce was always fresh. She kept a carton of gochujang, a red pepper paste, on hand in the kitchen to spice up dishes, and added hong cho, pomegranate flavored vinegar, to her drinking water. (Note: gochujang and hong cho are both Korean ingredients).

Born in Hollywood on October 30, 1932, she lived in Hancock Park, in the same house she grew up in, for her entire life. After earning a B.A. from Stanford University, she went on to earn a master’s in journalism at UCLA before joining the Los Angeles Herald-Express, where she was relegated to writing in the women’s section. Her six best-selling books include: Mexican Cookery; Southeast Asian Cooking: Menus and Recipes From Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines; Cooking  California Style; Good Bread, and a revised edition of the Southeast Asian cookbook with new format and recipes. By request, she wrote Korean Restaurant Guide: Los Angeles. She was an avid world traveler and considered an authority on Indian and Mexican food. She wrote two blogs, and, that is dedicated to Mexican food.

In the mid ’60s, Hansen was recruited by Los Angeles Times food editor Jeanne Voltz to help out with the section. Hansen’s insatiable curiosity predated even the arrival of cilantro in Los Angeles, an ingredient she eventually found in Chinese markets labeled “Chinese parsley.” In the decades that followed, Hansen’s precise, deep reporting documented waves of immigration to Los Angeles: Thais, Armenians, Koreans, Indians, Oaxacans, and Salvadorans, whose cuisines she embraced.

She was a keen admirer of easy single bowl meals: “With everyone’s busy schedules today, these dinners are simple to shop for and make. You layer everything you need for a complete meal in a single bowl, in this case, a starch (rice), protein (shrimp) and veggies (baby bok choy, mushrooms) combined with a sauce. Cook the rice, and keep it warm while stir-frying the shrimp and choice of veggies. Put the shrimp and vegetables on top of the rice. It’s that fast.”

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Melissa’s Produce in Los Angeles distributes baby bok choy widely, she said, so customers can find it in most supermarkets. Hansen also bought her  bok choy from a nearby Korean market. For the rice, she cooks jasmine or basmati rice in boiling water, drains off the water and lets the rice stand, covered, for 5 or 10 minutes. “This way, you get perfect rice every time, you don’t have to measure the water, and the rice never sticks. An Indian chef taught me this method.”

“Prepare the rice in advance and assemble the other ingredients ahead of time so it takes only a few minutes to put the dish together. For the shrimp, I use big EZ peel shrimp that I keep in a bag in the freezer. Thawing them enough to peel takes only seconds, if you rinse them with cold water. This recipe is designed for one serving on the days when you’re alone or need something that’s delicious and quick and easy to prepare.”


2 dried shiitake mushrooms

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons oyster sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/3 cup jasmine or basmati rice

2 heads baby bok choy

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1 (1/4-inch) slice ginger root, peeled and finely chopped

4 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Additional soy sauce, if needed


Soak the shiitake mushrooms in the water until very soft. Remove and slice or chop, discarding stems. Reserve the soaking liquid.

Place the cornstarch in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add 1/4 cup of the mushroom soaking liquid, the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil, and stir until blended. Set aside until needed. Reserve the remaining soaking liquid.

Wash the rice, drain, then place in a saucepan and cover generously with water that should come well above the rice. Bring the rice to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Drain the rice and let stand, covered, in the saucepan until needed. (The rice may be prepared in advanced and reheated before using). Cut the bok choy crosswise in slices about 1-inch wide, or slightly wider. Discard the root end and any tough pieces at the bottom.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok. Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry a few seconds, but do not allow to burn. Add the bok choy and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, then the sauce mixture and cook and stir for 2 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Place the hot rice in a heated large single serving bowl. Place the bok choy on top. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid to the empty wok. Add the shrimp and cook about 2 minutes, turning once. Place the shrimp on top of the bok choy and serve at once, with additional soy sauce on the side to adjust seasoning, if needed.

Makes 1 serving.

For this recipe, go to:

Ethnic food writer and author Barbara Hansen shopping at a local Los Angeles market for fresh produce.

Note: Melissa’s Produce is the nation’s largest specialty produce distributor, delivering the freshest ideas in produce from the global market to your local grocery stores, favorite restaurants, and go-to sports venues.

Over the years, the company’s Food Service Division has become a full-service operation that supplies culinary professionals with culinary staples, exotic fruits and vegetables, and Melissa’s full line of organic produce. From year-round staples to seasonal favorites, Melissa’s provides quality ingredients many customers rely on. Visit their website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. See:


“Armenian Treats”:

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Korean Restaurant Guide: Los Angeles

All contents copyright 2007-2012 Barbara Hansen. All rights reserved.


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