Featured Ingredient: Bok Choy

by | Aug 31, 2020 | Article | 0 comments

Photo: iStock/tycoon751

 

Bok choy is one of the most important vegetables in Asian cuisine, with a 5,000-year history traced to China’s Yellow River Valley.  Brought to North America by Chinese immigrants, bok choy stays true to its Asian roots, but is also permeating other more contemporary styles of cooking.

With tender, dark greens and crisp white stalks, bok choy is known by many names – white cabbage, Chinese celery, spoon cabbage, Chinese mustard and others.  California and Canada have joined China as being leading growers of bok choy.

Traditionally, bok choy has been used for medicinal purposes to treat upset stomachs, colds and coughs.  Today, bok choy continues to garner super food status for its punch of vitamins A, C and K, potassium, calcium and beta-carotene which support our immune systems, bones and vision.

 

SELECTION AND STORAGE
Bok choy is available year-round in grocery stores.  Farmers markets carry fresh picked bok choy during the cooler seasons of Fall and Spring.  Bok choy is sold in two sizes – large, fully mature stalks or small, baby stalks.  Look for fresh bok choy with brightly colored green leaves and firm stalks.  Avoid those that are wilted or brown.

Store bok choy loosely wrapped in a damp towel or mesh bag in the refrigerator for three to five days.  Wait to wash the stalks until ready to cook to avoid molding.

 

PREPARATION AND COOKING
Because of its layers, bok choy can be a bit of a dirt magnet, therefore, thorough cleaning is important.

  • For large sized bok choy – trim off the bottom root end and separate the leaves before washing. Run each leaf under cold water until clean (using a vegetable brush if necessary), shake off excess, and gently pat dry.
  • For baby bok choy – cut in half lengthwise, then soak in a large bowl of cold water or run cold water between the layers to remove any trapped soil. Shake off excess water and gently pat dry.

Bok choy can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, stir-fried or sautéed, roasted or braised.  It is commonly used in the company of other veggies in stir fries and soups or stews but is equally delicious when served on its own as a side dish.

Bok choy pairs well with flavor builders such as garlic, ginger, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce or coconut aminos, honey, nut and seed oils, rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce.  It compliments many other vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, snap or snow peas and cauliflower and can be finished with a sprinkling of nuts, seeds or fresh herbs.

 

Common Cooking Methods for Bok Choy

Steam Stir Fry Roast Braise
  • Clean thoroughly; cut into desired sized pieces
  • Arrange bok choy in a steamer basket
  • Place basket over simmering water, cover and steam until bok choy is just tender when pierced with a knife (about 4 – 6 minutes)

 

  • Clean thoroughly; cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Heat pan – high heat; add oil
  • Add bok choy and any other veggies and flavor enhancers
  • Cook about 3 minutes until tender-crisp

 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Clean thoroughly; cut baby bok choy in half or large bok choy into large pieces
  • Toss with high heat oil to coat evenly, spread on to prepared baking pan, sprinkle with salt, pepper and any other desired seasoning
  • Roast for 10 – 20 minutes, until tender with lightly brown, crispy leaves

 

  • Clean thoroughly; cut into bite-sized or larger pieces
  • Place bok choy into a large pot with sides
  • Add stock, broth or water to cover leaves
  • Add salt, pepper and any flavor enhancers
  • Bring to simmer; cover, simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until fully tender

 

 

 

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Summary