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Bonkers for Bok Choy

By Alana Sugar, June 20, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
I’ve got a bias for bok choy. Here’s my story: As a young teenager living in Honolulu, I was eager to learn as much as I could about cooking, in particular the Asian dishes that I had come to love. I was curious about much of my new “Hawaiian” cuisine, including the unusual little green leaves I often found in my food at Lung Fung restaurant, our favorite Chinese hangout. It was neither a collard nor a turnip-green, and nothing I remembered seeing as a child in Louisiana. At first I thought it was seaweed, but soon learned it was Chinese cabbage, also called bok choy. At the time, one of my favorite Island dishes was sweet and sour pork, and I was determined to make my own version. So I pulled from our bookcase the only Chinese cookbook my mother had. It was a Chinese-Kosher cookbook from 1963. I turned to the index in the back of the book and there I found the category of Pork, and underneath it read the words, plain and clear, You shouldn’t know from it!(Meaning that pork is not Kosher.) And so, I had no choice but to move on to other categories where I promptly discovered a vast new “pork-less” world of appetizers, rice dishes, stir-fries and vegetables, including bok choy, that unusual green from the restaurant. Armed with the aid of my Chinese-Kosher cookbook and my Mom to drive me to the store and pay for my ingredients, I was soon on my way to a whole new lesson in Asian cooking. Bok choy, like other cruciferous vegetables, is nutrient dense and known for containing special compounds that support health. Although classified in the cabbage family, it neither resembles nor tastes like any of the cabbages we are used to. The stalks look like white celery and the leaves more like broccoli leaves or dark Romaine lettuce. In China, it’s called “Pak Choi” meaning “white vegetable.” Here at home, you’ll mostly find either common bok choy, characterized by its large white stalks and crinkly green leaves, or baby bok choy, my personal favorite, a tiny resemblance of the larger version, only with small, light green stalks and tender baby leaves. Both varieties are worth a try and can be a delicious addition to many a meal, whether Asian, Mediterranean, European, American or otherwise. If you’re ready for a simple-to-cook, mild-tasting leafy green addition to your healthy menus, here’s where to start: When purchasing bok choy, look for firm, smooth white stalks and dark, crisp greens. If it’s baby bok choy you want, look for light green stalk with firm leaves and no yellow or brown marks. Store in a plastic bag and use within 4 to 5 days. Remember, you can eat bok choy stalks raw with dip or chopped fresh for salads. Otherwise, depending on your recipe, you’ll want to cook it quickly so the stalks stay crisp and the leaves get tender. For stir-frying, add stalks first and green leaves a minute or two later, towards the end of cooking. Are you a bok choy buff? Got a favorite recipe? I’d love to hear!
Category: Food & Recipes

 

18 Comments

Comments

Annie says ...
Actually in China, the most widely used name for bok choy is "bai cai" (Mandarin Chinese). I love to eat it in stir-fried vermicelli with chicken and other vegetables but I'm definitely going to try some of these recipes now.
06/20/2011 8:47:37 PM CDT
kara rane says ...
hi Alana- great discovery story,,I too was a curious young chef and enjoyed exploring "unique" vegetables (i was also a very young vegetarian). Your suggestion for Bok Choy in smoothies is interesting- I will be trying this - and seems a good way to hide vegetables from some non-veg. loving family memebers :)
06/20/2011 11:10:12 AM CDT
Magnus says ...
Great article! I'll show my Chinese wife and mother-in-law but I'm sure they know it all (except of course using Bok Choy for SALAD!!) In Mandarin I'm 90% sure they say 大白菜 or in pinyin dà bái cài. In the states we can find Shanghai Bok Choy and New York Bok Choy. My wife prefers the Shanghai Bok Choy but I think she's a bit biased. This article was forwarded to me by my mom! Thanks MOM!
06/23/2011 7:56:15 AM CDT
Jennifer C. Warren says ...
Bok Chow added to most stir fry or soups adds a unique texture and flavor to a dish. The crunch of the stalk and bulb together with a savory broth is a delightful addition to most meals.
06/23/2011 12:12:22 PM CDT
Laura Blanchard says ...
Cut off the base of the choi(s). Slice the remainder into 1-1/2" chunks, cutting the basal chunk in half lengthwise if necessary. Steam for 5 minutes. Top with sesame oil and pickled ginger and a healthy dollop of Tabasco, and serve.
06/23/2011 4:08:35 PM CDT
Anne says ...
Love it chopped in a rich chicken broth with chopped chicken! You also add a bit of pasta for a fun twist on chicken noodle soup...
06/23/2011 4:11:03 PM CDT
Willing Cook says ...
We love bok choy ourselves after having it in an authentic chinese restaurant. I try to recreate it at home, and while it's not quite the same, it is still really good. First, saute minced garlic in canola oil, then add sliced bok choy with a bit of water, cover and steam until wilted. Add a touch of soy sauce at the end and let flavors blend for a minute or two. Serve over steamed rice. Feel free to add sesame seeds as a garnish. This is a great vegetarian dish, or you can add diced chicken or thinly sliced beef. Very simple, and very good!
06/23/2011 5:15:58 PM CDT
Chef Grid says ...
Great tasting vegetable for everyone!!! Toss it with olive oil then roast for 5-10 minutes @ 400*F To serve, sprinkle with soy sauce. Delicious!!!
06/29/2011 6:22:32 PM CDT
Ronnie says ...
BBQ/Grilled Bok Choy Cut length-wise and rinse well. When dry, spray or brush lightly with olive oil and add savory herbs to taste. Place on grill flat side down. Don't overcook...simple and yummy!
06/29/2011 7:25:59 PM CDT
Christine says ...
I've always loved bok choy. I've never tried it uncooked or in a smoothie, so I guess I'll be trying that. I also steam bok choy and dip it in a Guamanian finadene sauce: Soy sauce, lemon, sliced onions, pepper.
06/29/2011 7:57:58 PM CDT
Tina says ...
My co-worker and I split a summer farm share and have been receiving bok choy every week. At first we didn't even know what it was, we thought it was maybe a different type of celery. Once we found it what it was, we have no idea what to do with it, and as such, have been attempting to push the other to take it. Thank you very much for the article and suggestions. I have forwarded the link to her and now we'll be able to do something with the bok choy rather than letting it rot in the fridge drawer.
06/29/2011 8:24:56 PM CDT
Judy says ...
I love bok choy! My favorite way to eat it is to "sweat" it in a little oil and chicken stock with mushrooms, bacon slice and whatever else I have on hand. Sometimes I combine the bok choy and kale. I season it with salt, pepper and anori (dried green laver). it goes great with salmon.
06/29/2011 8:28:49 PM CDT
Irene Louise says ...
Cannot open link to Brazil trip information. Thanks. irene
06/29/2011 9:07:37 PM CDT
Terri Lynn Merritts says ...
I would love to see more vegan recipes! Why must every thing always include artery-clogging dead animals. Eating dead animals and using dairy and eggs not only funds animal abuse in those industries, but those products lead to coronary artery disease and various cancers as well as heart attacks and strokes. Whole Foods has so many lovely vegan foods and the best produce I haved ever seen. Even omnivores and carnists can eat foods with no dead animals and cruelty laden products in them.
06/30/2011 2:01:21 AM CDT
richard lazar says ...
Love this web site's " sizzlemanship". Just read the bok choy story,thanks to Alana Sugar, just added it to my list, and after breakfast i am heading to my Cary WF store for it. Thanks
06/30/2011 6:54:25 AM CDT
Giselle says ...
I like to chop it up and roast it in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper and lemon juice. I can easily eat an entire bunch(?) of it in one sitting this way. SO good.
06/30/2011 1:42:34 PM CDT
Linda says ...
Bok Choy is great chopped and put into soup or stews for extra texture and nutrition.
07/04/2011 9:22:30 PM CDT
jacqui jackson says ...
thanks love bok choy and these recipes are great.
07/05/2011 11:38:05 AM CDT