How to Cook Bok Choy

Learn how to cook bok choy, also known as pak choi or Chinese cabbage. Enjoy it in plant-based side dishes, soups, stews, salads, or as a filling in vegan dumplings.

Kirsten Nunez, MS

By Kirsten Nunez, MS

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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.

Health Benefits 

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.

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 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.

Bok choy in a strainer
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

2. Slice each head in half, lengthwise. 

Cutting baby bok choy in half
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

3. 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.

Cook bok choy in a skillet
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

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.

Cooked bok choy on a plate
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Cooking Tips 

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 bok choy.

Storage Tips

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.

Cooked bok choy on a plate

How to Cook Bok Choy

Learn how to cook bok choy, also known as pak choi or Chinese cabbage. Enjoy it in plant-based side dishes, soups, stews, salads, or as a filling in vegan dumplings.
Click stars below to rate, or leave a full review in the comments
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Print Rate it Now Pin Recipe
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Diet: Vegan
Keyword: bok choy, chinese cabbage, how to cook bok choy, pak choi
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 161kcal
Author: Kirsten Nunez, MS

Ingredients

  • 4 baby bok choy
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes crushed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Place the bok choy in a strainer and wash under running water. Pat dry with a clean paper towel.
  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.

Recommended Tools & Products

Strainer
Large skillet

Nutrition

Calories: 161kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 152mg | Potassium: 22mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 10132IU | Vitamin C: 103mg | Calcium: 259mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @CleanGreenSimple or tag #CleanGreenSimple!
Kirsten Nunez

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.

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