Choy Sum
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Choy Sum (Brassica rapa var. parachinensis or Brassica chinensis var. parachinensis), also known as Choi Sum, Bok Choy Sum, Bok Choy Sum Hearts, Flowering Pak Choi, Flowering Cabbage or Chinese Flowering Cabbage (because of its yellow flowers), is type of “non-heading,” Bok Choi that is also in the Mustard Greens family. Choy Sum is similar to Bok Choi in that it has dark green leaves, white stems and it does not form a typical Cabbage “head,” but it is most similar in appearance to Rapini or Broccoli Rabe.

The name “Choy Sum” (which means "vegetable heart" in Cantonese) is also sometimes appropriated to refer to soft inner core of a Bok Choi (shorn of its tougher outer leaves), or even to refer to the stalk of any Chinese Cabbage. Choi Sum is one of the most popular vegetables among the Chinese and is probably the most popular vegetable in Hong Kong. The taste for Choi Sum has expanded though and it is now also widely used in the western world.

Season

Choy Sum is generally best in October.

Availability

Choy Sum is available all year round.

Cultivation

Choy Sum is an annual Herbaceous plant. It is possible to grow Choy Sum at home, year round, in temperate climates. Unlike other leafy green relatives, Choy Sum is most often cultivated specifically for the tender, crunchy stems and flavorful flowers.

Varieties

There are two main varieties of Choy Sum: Green Choy Sum and White Choy Sum.

Purchasing

You will not normally find whole Choy Sum vegetables in your Grocers’ produce section. If they do sell it, they normally near the Bok Choy or Chinese Broccoli. It is also possible that they may sell only the trimmed leaves and stalks at a premium, much like they green grocers sell Celery Hearts. If you have trouble finding Choy Sum, you may want to check an Asian Market.

When selecting Choy Sum in the produce aisle, look for crisp specimens with upright leaves. It should have a firm stalk and there should be no discolorations, blemishes or soft spots. Smaller vegetables are actually better, since they will be more tender and flavorful. Fresher is better.

Storage

Once selected and at home, the Choy Sum can be kept wrapped in a plastic bag in the produce drawer of the refrigerator for 2-3 days, after which time it should be used. You may get away with a week, if you are forced to stretch it. Fresh Choy Sum can be frozen for 8-12 months.

Culinary Uses

Choy sum is thought of as the best of the Chinese Cabbages. Though the whole plant is edible, and the leaves are juicy and tender, it is the crunchy stems and flavorful flowers of Choy Sum which are the parts that are most sought after. Choy Sum has a milder, sweeter taste, than Bok Choy, Broccoli Rabe or Mustard Greens, especially when cooked. The flavor itself can be described as halfway between Cabbage and Spinach, with a hint of a mustard-like bite. The younger leaves tend to be blander and more cabbage-like, while the older leaves develop a bit more “kick.”

Choy Sum is used in a variety of Asian Foods, and can be used Raw in Salads, or Steamed, Stir Fried, Boiled (lightly) or used in Stews, Braises and Soups. Choy Sum is typically used in a similar manner to Bok Choy, except that it is more delicate than its relatives and is usually added to a recipe at the last minute, so that no flavor is lost. Also where some perceptive chefs might separate the stems and leaves of Bok Choy (because of variations in cook time), before cooking them, Choy Sum can be cooked whole.

Think of it as a “mustardy” Spinach (they are similar in flavor and texture) and you won’t go far wrong as you try to “westernize” this Asian Green. Add Choy Sum to Casseroles, Risottos, Pizza to give those dishes more character.

Make sure not to overcook the Choy Sum, which should have firm stems with the leaves just Wilted when it is cooked right.

To use Choy Sum, wash the entire vegetable, drain it and dry it well before De-Stemming the greens.

Portion Size

Allow 1-2 oz of Choy Sum per person.

Substitutes

Bok Choy

Nutritional Value USDA
CABBAGE,COMMON,FRESHLY HARVEST,RAW
Amount Per 100g
Calories 24
%Daily Value*
 
0%
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 18mg
5%
Potassium 246mg
1%
Total Carbohydrate 5g
8%
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 0g
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

Choi Sum is rich in Carotene, Calcium and Dietary Fiber, it also provides Potassium and Folic Acid.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes