Bok choy is a staple in Asian dishes, but if you’re unfamiliar, it’s time to get caught up on what it is, how it’s used, the different types of bok choy, and the importance of the vegetable in Asian cuisine.
What Is Bok Choy?
If you didn’t know, bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage that features tender dark green leaves and crisp white-colored stalks. The leaves, which supply most of the flavor, have a spinach-like taste with a very mild bitterness, as well as slightly sweeter and peppery similarity to water chestnuts. Bok choy isn’t to be confused with napa cabbage, which is another type of Chinese cabbage that has a close resemblance to Romaine lettuce and is less flavorful and has a different texture than bok choy.
Different Types Of Bok Choy: Baby Bok Choy and Large Bok Choy
Bok choy comes in a variety of sizes. The majority of Chinese dishes are made with baby bok choy, which can be cut into pieces or enjoyed whole. Large bok choy, on the other hand, is usually older and tougher, and though it still has plenty of flavor, it can be hard to cut and less tender than baby bok choy. There’s even a variation called medium bok choy that features the same fat, light stems as baby bok choy. Smaller types of bok choy can be cooked whole are in halves, while large bok choy must be chopped before cooking.
How To Cook With Bok Choy
Bok choy has so much versatility because both the leaves and the stalks can be eaten, and therefore, it can be prepared by stir-frying, steaming, or simmering in water. Bok choy can be added to all kinds of dishes, like soups, noodles, salads, and stir-fries, or it can be used as a filling in spring rolls, dumplings, and steamed buns. There isn’t one type of cuisine that bok choy is most used in, and therefore all forms of preparation are equally common.
In order to prepare the Chinese cabbage, you’ll need to follow these steps. First, you’ll want to clean them off in a large bowl of water to get rid of the excess dirt. Then, make sure to shake off the excess moisture and dry the stalk completely. All good? Great! Next, you’ll need to know how to cut bok choy.
Flip your stalks over, and cut the Chinese cabbage down the middle with long, horizontal slices all the way down to the leaves. Then, turn the stalk horizontally and chop into thick pieces. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start cooking your bok choy with your preferred method of preparation.
A Simple Bok Choy Recipe for Beginners
If you’re interested in incorporating bok choy into your meals but still don’t know where to start, this simple ginger bok choy stir-fry recipe is perfect for beginners:
- Add 1 TBSP of coconut oil to a pan on high heat.
- After the oil has melted, add a small amount of sliced garlic and ground ginger.
- Add a bowls-worth of bok choy stems, a TBSP of soy sauce, and a splash of water.
- Once the stems have softened up, add the bok choy leaves and a few pinches of salt and pepper.
- Mix the ingredients around in the pan until the leaves wilt down.
- Plate the cooked bok choy and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
This recipe is great for beginners because it can be enjoyed as a side dish to a fish or chicken meal, or served over quinoa or brown rice.
Bok Choy FAQ
If you’re new to the world of bok choy, you probably still have some lingering questions about the ingredient. Here’s what you need to know. When properly stored, bok choy can be kept in the fridge for three to four days. Make sure to
store it in a plastic bag, and do not wash until you’re ready to use it.
If you’ve tried bok choy and are unsure whether it’s the right leafy green for you, there are a number of bok choy substitutes you can try instead, like Swiss chard, long stem broccoli, broccoli, green heart cabbage, or spring greens. Hey, you gotta get those greens in somehow!