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
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