What is Bok Choy?
Bok choy is a type of cabbage that’s native to China, but by all means is not imported and can be quickly and easily grown locally. It’s a cruciferous vegetable, meaning it’s related to veggies like kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and turnips. According to University of Minnesota, bok choy is also called pak choi or Chinese cabbage, though the latter is technically a different variety of cabbage.
At first glance, bok choy might look similar (or even related) to celery, but they’re completely different. Bok choy has thick, light green-white stalks that look like celery, but they’re shorter and rounder. The leaves are also wider and darker. Bok choy leaves are similar to spinach, whereas celery leaves may resemble parsley.
Bok choy is a popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine. It’s often used in salads, soups, stir fries, and simple side dishes. The stems can also be enjoyed like celery, while the leaves may be used in sandwiches, just as you would other leafy green vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables are highly nutritious, and bok choy is no different. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, bok choy contains nutrients like fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin K. Cruciferous veggies, including bok choy, contain compounds called glucosinolates. According to the journal Molecules, glucosinolates can combat inflammation and oxidative stress, two major contributors of chronic disease.
How to grow Bok Choy
Bok Choy is easy to grow and tolerant of partial sun, these plants are a surefire way to get some garden produce into your kitchen. Bok choy likes fertile, nitrogen-rich soil. Add lots of compost and organic matter. Keep soil moisture even and slightly moist. From seed to harvest is usually 45 days and likes a growing temp between 55 – 70 degrees, so planting in early spring or late summer is optimum.
What Does Bok Choy Taste Like?
Bok choy has a fresh, mild cabbage flavor with a slight peppery taste. The leaves are more bitter than the stalks, though it isn’t overpowering. For most people, the bitterness of the leaves is quite mild.
What Is the Texture of Bok Choy?
The stalks of bok choy are crispy, just like celery. However, the leaves are thin and wilt when heated, like other leafy greens. As a result, bok choy is excellent for adding multiple textures to a single meal.
How to Choose Bok Choy?
In the grocery store, look for bok choy with fresh green leaves and firm light green or white stems. Avoid wilted, slimy, or mushy bok choy with brown spots.
Can You Eat Raw Bok Choy?
Yes, you can eat bok choy raw. It tastes great in dishes like coleslaws or salads.
How to Cook Baby Bok Choy
As the name suggests, baby bok choy are young bok choy plants. They’re smaller in size, so you can eat them whole or cut into pieces. Before cooking baby bok choy, rinse it under running water to remove dirt and debris. You should also remove any wilted or discolored leaves. Next, dry it with a paper towel.
You can cook baby bok choy whole, cut it in half lengthwise, separate the stalks, or slice the entire head into strips or chunks. It can also be sautéed, steamed, or roasted and added to stir-fry or soup.
How to Cook Large Bok Choy
Before cooking large bok choy, rinse it under running water. Remove any dirt, along with any wilted leaves. Due to the size of large bok choy, you may need to gently separate the stalks to properly remove debris. Shake the bok choy over a sink to remove extra moisture, and dry it with a clean towel.
Cut the root end of the bok choy, about 1 or 1 1/2 inches from the bottom, depending on its size. You can discard this portion. From there, cut the leaves with your favorite chef’s knife and slice them into strips, which can be used like any other leafy green vegetables. Cut the stalks into chunks, which can be sautéed, steamed, or roasted.
How to Cook Bok Choy in Soup
This Asian vegetable is delicious in soup. Add the chopped stalks first, as they’ll take longer to cook. The stalks are ready once they become tender. Add the leafy tops after the stalks, about 3 to 5 minutes before the soup is finished. The leafy tops are ready once they’re completely wilted.
Bok Choy Recipe Ideas
The Best Way to Cook Bok Choy
Bok choy can be prepared using several cooking methods. However, sautéing bok choy is one of the easiest and delicious ways to cook it. Also, we prefer baby bok choy, as it generally takes less time to cut and cook. Follow these steps:
1. Place the bok choy in a strainer and wash under running water. Pat dry with a clean paper towel.
2. Slice each head in half, lengthwise.
3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive or sesame oil and 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic or 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger or both!. Cook the garlic or ginger for 30 seconds. Next, place four bok choy halves in the pan, flat side facing down.
Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip with tongs. Cover the pan and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Remove the bok choy with tongs and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, sesame seeds, and pepper flakes. Repeat with the remaining bok choy halves.
How to Know When It’s Cooked
Bok choy is cooked when the stalks are tender and the leaves are wilted and bright green.
How to Get Rid of the Bitterness
If you find bok choy to be too bitter, try blanching it before cooking. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add the halved or cut bok choy. Cook for 30 to 45 seconds or until tender and bright.
How Do You Cook It Without Oil?
When sautéing bok choy, simply replace the oil with water. You can also steam or stir fry bok choy.
How Long Can You Keep Fresh Bok Choy in the Fridge?
Store fresh bok choy, unwashed, in a perforated bag. It will last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
How Long Can You Keep Cooked Bok Choy in the Fridge?
Cooked bok choy will last 3 to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
How to Cook Bok Choy
- 4 baby bok choy
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes crushed
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon sesame seeds
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Slice each head in half, lengthwise.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds. Next, place four bok choy halves in the pan, flat side facing down.
- Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip with tongs. Cover the pan and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the bok choy with tongs and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, sesame seeds, and pepper flakes. Repeat with the remaining bok choy halves.
- If you have a very large skillet, you can cook more bok choy halves at once. Just make sure the bok choy is cooked in an even layer.
- The bok choy is cooked when the stalks are tender and the leaves are wilted and bright green.
- If you find bok choy to be too bitter, try blanching it before cooking. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add the halved or cut bok choy. Cook for 30 to 45 seconds or until tender and bright.
- Cooked bok choy will last 3 to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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About the Author
Kirsten Nunez is a journalist who focuses on healthy food and cooking. Her vegan and plant-based recipes have appeared on VegNews, eHow, Shape, and more. When she’s not creating vegan recipes for Clean Green Simple, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen and sharing plant-based meals with friends and family. More articles by Kirsten.