Blanching vs Boiling

Blanching a vegetable is like a quick skinny dip in boiling water.  A partial cook, if you will.  I normally blanch thick vegetables before a stir-fry so I don't have to wait around forever for them to cook through; non-leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, lotus roots, etc. Another possible issue without blanching is some pieces may cook completely while others might be a tad underdone, not getting enough "pan-contact" even with constant movement.  Blanching is the solution - every vegetable gets flash "cooked" at the same time.  Finishing them up in a pan or wok will complete the cooking process while adding in flavors.

Blanching
1.  Have a large bowl filled with ice water and a strainer with handle or colander ready in the sink before you start boiling the vegetables.  Vegetables are delicate and can be overcooked even with 5 seconds lag time.

2.  Fill a stockpot with  water.  Bring to a full, rolling boil - newly formed bubbles plastered against the pot doesn't count as boiling.

3.  Boil vegetables for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the size and type (more/less dense).  I love my vegetables with a crunch, so I don't leave them in for long.  Also, boiling too long will cause vegetables to lose essential vitamins and nutrients.  To be sure, start checking at 30 seconds, take a bite of vegetable, if it's crisp and slightly underdone of what you normally prefer, immediately fish them out with your drainer and immerse into the ice water or pour contents into the colander and transfer vegetables to the iced water!  The ice water is meant to "shock" and stop the cooking process immediately or else the vegetables will continue to cook from residual heat and become limp before you can use them in your dish.

4.  Once cooled, drain vegetables completely and set aside in a big bowl.  Make sure they aren't too wet when stir frying in a wok or pan, or else you might end up with steamed vegetables instead of a nice dry stir-fry!  To avoid this, I'll blanch vegetables about an hour before I start cooking to ensure it's dried off a bit.  When adding vegetables to your hot, oiled pan, make sure to pick up the blanced vegetables by hand and place them in as opposed to turning out the contents of the bowl into the pan because the accumulated water sitting on the bottom will also run out.  Big fat no-no.  Don't be lazy.

Boiling
1.  Fill pot about  way up and let water come to a full rolling boil before adding things in, and as I've said before, newly formed bubbles plastered against the pot doesn't count as boiling!  You may add a generous amount of salt to your boiling water, chef's say, for flavor.  But, honestly, whatever is going in the pot to boil, is going to come out and go into something else which I'm seasoning.  I feel it's a waste of salt going into the water.  But, that's just me - do what you prefer!

2.  There are exceptions to #1 however.  Hard boiled eggs and potatoes.  Potatoes and eggs need to sit in cold water and come to a boil together.  If potatoes start in boiling water, the exterior will cook too quickly and break up before the insides are done.  If an egg is placed into boiling water, the shell is prone to cracking.  Eggs do not need to boil in a lot of water; place eggs in small pot and fill with water until eggs are just covered, about ½-inch above eggs.