Bok Choy
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Bok Choy (Brassica rapa variety chinensis) but also known as Bok Choi, Pak Choy, Pak Choi, Pei Tsai, Chinese Chard, Chinese Mustard, Celery Mustard, Spoon Cabbage and/or Chongee, is a Chinese cabbage with thick white leaf stalks and vibrant green leaves.

Bok Choy, which is an Asian Green, does not form a typical cabbage “head.” Its white stalks resemble celery.

Season

Bok Choy is a Fall Vegetable and Winter Vegetable in North America, although Baby Bok Choy (picked early) can be found on store shelves and at Farmer’s Markets as early as August.

Availability

You should have no trouble finding Bok Choy at better markets, all year round.

Cultivation

Production

Varieties

In the U.S., we most often see the dark green leaved, white-stemmed Bok Choy, but in Hong Kong there are over 20 varieties of this easy to grow vegetable available.

Some of the smaller Bok Choy varieties (Mei Qing Choi, Baby Bok Choi, Choy Sum, Extra Dwarf Pak Choy, etc.) are the most tender and tasty.

Purchasing

Bok Choy is a vegetable sold in either mature form or baby form. Mature Bok Choy has white stems and dark green leaves. Baby Bok Choy is light green in color.

When shopping for Bok Choy, look for Bok Choy that exhibit fresh-looking leaves (no brown spots) and firm stalks. If the leaves are limp and/or the stalks are slimy, the Bok Choy is deteriorating and should not be purchased.

Storage

The easiest way to store Bok Choiy is, unwashed and refrigerated. The goal is to keep the Bok Choy dry throughout the storage period, so it doesen't become “slimy.” When you're ready to use the Bok Choy, clean it as you would clean celery. Whether it needs to be peeled will depend on the size of the Bok Choi, the presentation and your ultimate end-use.

Alternatively, you can wash and prepare Bok Choy before, refrigerated storage. Just make sure to dry it very well, before bagging it. Bok Choy stored in the refrigerator, will keep for 1 week.

Culinary Uses

Bok Choy's popularity comes from its light, sweet flavor and its crisp texture. The leaves and stems of Bok Choi are adaptable and eaten Raw in Salads, Steamed, or frequently, cooked separately in Stir Fries, Braises, Stews, Soups, Salads, Spring Rolls, Noodle Dishes, etc. It is not “traditional” but Bok Choy can even be Roasted, Pan Fried or Deep Fried.

Because of their varying levels of toughness (and cook time), the green leaves (quicker cooking) of a mature Bok Choy are often separated from the paler, thicker stalks (longer cooking) before they hit the pan.

Similarly, the more delicate inner leaves work well Raw in things like Salads, Spring Rolls, Garnishes, etc. When working with Raw Bok Choi, the leaves are the more useful piece of the Vegetable. The stalks are a little too tough for Raw. De-Stem the Bok Choy. Keep the leaves for your Salad or other raw use. You will likely want to tear them by hand, or Rough Chop them so that they are bite-sized. Reserve the stalks for use in Vegetable Stock or other recipes.

The sturdier outer leaves will impart a better “Mouth Feel” and better taste if they are cooked. Whichever cooking method you choose, be sure not to overcook the Bok Choy. Perfectly cooked Bok Choy should have tender stalks with the leaves just Wilting.

When Stir-Frying Bok Choy, a good general practice is to remove the root of the Bok Choy before cooking but leave the leaves and stems together. Stir-fry the Bok Choy on Medium/High Heat for 30 seconds, before seasoning it with some Salt and then adding in a small amount of liquid (like water or Chicken Stock). Use about 3 T of liquid for each pound of Bok Choy. Cover the Wok and reduce the heat to a Simmer. Simmer for about 2 minutes and it should be done. When cooked to your liking, taste the Bok Choi and then adjust the Seasonings to suit your palate.

You can also add some Garlic, Ginger, Soy Sauce, Sugar, Sesame Oil, Oyster Sauce, etc. to add your own personal Flair, Smart Kitchen’s 4th Lever of Cooking™. These flavorings will spice up the Simmering Liquid. If you want to Thicken the Simmering Liquid, add a bit of Flour or Cornstarch to make it more of a proper Sauce. Serve the Bok Choy as is, or drizzle a Seasoning or flavor over it before service.

Smart Kitchen has a few recipes for Soups and Stir Fries that use Bok Choy, including Bok Choy Soup, Steamed Bok Choy, Beef with Asian Greens Stir Fry and Stir Fried Bok Choy.

To prep Bok Choy for use, separate the leaves (and stems) from the bulb by removing the bulb with a Chef’s Knife. The leaves are the portion that are most interesting in the kitchen so discard the bulb, or Reserve it for Vegetable Stock.

Rinse the leaves & stalks well and then drain and dry them. Shred or Rough Chop them so that they are all left in pieces of a manageable size.

Portion Size

Allow 1-4 heads of Bok Choy per person.

Nutritional Value

Nutritional Value USDA
CABBAGE,CHINESE (PAK-CHOI),RAW
Amount Per 100g
Calories 13
%Daily Value*
 
0%
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
2%
Sodium 65mg
5%
Potassium 252mg
0%
Total Carbohydrate 2g
4%
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 1g
Protein 1g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Nutrition

Bok Choy contains a fair amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Iron, Magnesium and Calcium.  In fact, this vegetable Green contains about 15% of the recommended daily allowance of Calcium in 1 Cup of cooked Bok Choi.

The bad news, nutritionally, is that Bok Choi contains Glucosinolates, which are thought to toxic in large doses. In small doses, Glucosinolates, are reported to help prevent cancer. Don’t overdo it with the Bok Choy.  In 2009, an elderly woman developed hypothyroidism and put herself into a myxedema coma by consuming, daily, only a little over 2 pounds (.91 kg) of raw Bok Choy. That is an extreme case, but overdoing it with Bok Choi can result in other symptoms such as: nausea, dizziness, and indigestion. Thoroughly cooking the Bok Choy lessens the likelihood of problems.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes