When it comes to food, I’ll eat anything green (except mold!).
Lucky to come from a family of southern cooks and green-leaf-lovers, I was certain I knew everything I needed to know about eating green things until my family moved to Hawaii.
There, I was introduced to a new (to me) leafy green called bok choy. Also referred to as Chinese cabbage, bok choy, like other cruciferous vegetables, is a nutrient-dense, delicious, easy-to-prepare vegetable known for containing special compounds that support good health.
Although technically classified as a member of the cabbage family, it neither resembles nor tastes like any of the cabbages we are familiar with. The stalks resemble white celery and the leaves look more like broccoli leaves or dark Romaine lettuce.
In China, bok choy is known as “pak choi,”,which means “white vegetable” (despite those lovely green leaves!).
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, a tiny resemblance of the larger version 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.
When purchasing bok choy, look for firm, smooth white stalks and dark, crisp greens. For baby bok choy, look for light green stalks with firm leaves and no yellow or brown marks. Store in a plastic bag and use within four to five 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. If you haven’t tried it yet, let bok choy make a wonderful, healthy and simple-to-cook addition to your menus this season.
Here are some delicious favorites:
Use in stir-fries.
Try with tofu or tempeh. You will love this recipe for Griddled Sesame and Garlic Tofu with Wilted Bok Choy.
Pan-sauté with fish filets like we did in this recipe for Miso-Glazed Catfish and Bok Choy.
Turn it into side dishes with other veggies such as mushrooms and carrots like in this recipe for Bok Choy with Carrots and Sesame-Orange Dressing or this recipe for Baby Bok Choy with Celery and Mushrooms.
Steam it and serve over hot cooked grains or noodles.
Pair with shellfish such as shrimp or scallops. Sesame Scallops with Tangerine and Bok Choy and Chardonnay-Poached Sea Scallops with Baby Bok Choy and Jasmine Rice are great places to start.
Add to soups and stews. If you like curry, you’ll love this Chicken and Vegetable Curry Soup. This delicious Miso Soup with Garlic and Ginger is light but warming — a perfect starter to a wintery meal.
Try it steamed or sautéed with white beans, chopped tomatoes, minced purple onion, your favorite cheese or sliced tofu for a healthy, delicious meal.
Here’s a simple recipe for Baby Bok Choy with Sweet Chili Sauce and Garlic.
Grill and serve as a side dish to poultry, beef, lamb or fish. This recipe for Grilled Chili-Garlic Swordfish and Bok Choy does just that.
Try bok choy finely diced and added to salads. Or try this recipe for Grilled Steak with Thai Summer Salad. It’s good in the winter, too!
Pair the greens with a little sharp cheese: Ale-Braised Baby Bok Choy with English Cheddar.
Add to green smoothies and vegetable juices.
Have you tried bok choy? Got a favorite recipe? Let me know.