Chinese Restaurant Classic
Bok Choy is a Chinese-restaurant classic, but you can cook it at home with exceptional results! While mature bok choy is more widely available, baby bok choy (less than 10 inches in length - usually around 6 inches) is also popular.
Bok choy is also known as bak choi, paak choi, Chinese chard cabbage and Chinese mustard cabbage.
A member of the brassica family, bok choy offers nutritional assets similar to those of other cabbages: It is rich in Vitamin C and contains significant amounts of nitrogen compounds known as indoles, phytochemicals that are believed to deactivate potent estrogens that can stimulate the growth of tumors, particularly in the breast.
Bok choy is also a good source of folate (vitamin B9). And with its deep green leaves, bok choy has more beta-carotene than other cabbages. A cup of bok choy contains nearly the entire RDA for beta-carotene.
Bok choy is by far the healthiest type of cabbage you can eat!
Bok Choy: Buy, Store & Prep
Bok choy has white stalks topped with deep green leaves. Its mild juicy sweetness is like that of romaine lettuce. Buy it for less than $1.00 per pound at supermarkets, Asian grocery stores and some farmers' markets. When buying bok choy, select stalks that are pure white and firm. Additionally, look for leaves that are dark green and non-wilted. Do not select bok choy that has any brown spots on its leaves, as this type of bok choy is less flavorful.
Store bok choy unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
Prep bok choy: Chop leaves and stalks. Cook stalks 2 minutes; then add leaves. Baby bok choy is extra-tender. Cook whole, or cook chopped stalks and leaves together. Baby bok choy is best when cooked whole and used as a side dish to a meat entree.
You can cook bok choy just as you would cabbage. When cooked, bok choy has a sweet flavor and the stalks should remain firm.
Cooking and Eating Bok Choy
Quick ideas for cooking and eating bok choy:
- Bok Choy Nut Toss: Stir fry diced stems with minced shallots. Add torn up leaves, broth, and almonds; cook until stems are crisp tender.
- Greens Soup: Simmer broth, sliced chicken, shredded stems, and grated fresh ginger until stems are crisp-tender; stir in shredded leaves.
And a couple for baby bok choy:
- Sesame Bok Choy: Steam halved or quartered baby bok choy until crisp-tender. Drain and stir-fry with Asian sesame oil and soy sauce.
- Spicy Bok Choy: Stir-fry coarsely chopped baby bok choy until crisp-tender; stir in soy sauce, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes.
Dried Bok Choy
It's not uncommon to see clotheslines filled with drying bok choy in small Chinese villages where this technique works well due to their dry climate. But bok choy can be dried in any home oven. Here is how to do it:
- Prepare the bok choy by rinsing to remove any dirt, taking care not to separate the leaves from the base of the bok choy. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the bok boy for 2 minutes. Immediately remove from boiling water and place into a bowl filled with ice water to quickly cool.
- Remove the cooled bok choy from the ice bath and drain on kitchen towels, gently patting dry. Place the bok choy in a single layer on a baking sheet and place into a 200 degree oven for up to 12 hours or until dry. Turn the bok choy every 1 to 2 hours throughout this process.
Dried bok choy is best used in soups and stews. You can also find packaged dried bok choy in most Asian markets. Make sure to wash it prior to using it.
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