What Is Bok Choy: Everything You Need To Know
Bok choy is a dark, cruciferous leafy green veggie found in various dishes throughout Asia. Great with garlic and soy sauce, there’s just something so special about bok choy that never fails to get the taste buds tingling.
Bok choy is also healthy and delicious! But there’s a lot to learn about bok choy.
So today, let’s talk about bok choy, how to prepare it, and some advice on what dishes to make with it. Adding this delicious leafy veggie can enhance your meals with vibrant color and nutrition, so let’s dive in!
What Is Bok Choy?
Bok choy, believe it or not, is actually a type of cabbage. It was originally cultivated in China hundreds of years ago and has since gained popularity all over the world.
It belongs to the pak choi family of Chinese brassicas, making it a leafy green. This veggie is characterized by thick and crunchy stems with a soft white or green color.
When buying bok choy, wrap it in a paper towel to remove moisture and keep it in the fridge. Bok choy usually stays fresh for up to four days, but make sure not to wash it until you’re ready to eat it.
What Does Bok Choy Taste Like?
The flavor of bok choy, as with many vegetables, depends on when you harvest it. Baby bok choy are young, tender bok choy that are a few inches in length. Baby bok choy has a delicate flavor similar to lettuce, and it works great in salads, green mixes, and stir-frys.
Fully matured bok choy has more of those delightful bitter flavors that are characteristic of leafy greens. It also has hints of a mustard-like flavor, giving it a unique taste.
Generally speaking, the flavor of bok choy is mild and cabbage-like. Its green leaves are a little bitter, and the white stalks are juicy and retain their crunch even after cooking.
How Do You Prepare Bok Choy?
There are a few essential steps you need to take in order to prepare bok choy correctly. But if you follow this guide, you’ll be eating delicious bok choy that’s clean and safe.
Wash Your Bok Choy to Remove Dirt from Leaves
The first step is to thoroughly wash the bok choy before you eat it. Because of its structure, it is very easy for dirt to accumulate between the leaves and down in the stalk.
If your meal calls for separating each stalk, chop off the root before you wash. But if you want the whole stalk to stay together, be careful to wash between the leaves thoroughly while cleaning.
Not only can this negatively affect the flavor of your bok choy, but you could inadvertently eat something unsafe, so make sure you follow this step!
Cut Bok Choy Into Desired Size
Each recipe will vary on how you need to cut your bok choy. If it’s being served on its own as a side dish, you would probably slice it into halves or quarters for easy sauteing. When using large bok choy, you may want to cut it into one-inch sections so it's easy to cook and eat.
Bok choy is flexible and can be prepared in various ways, so keep it personal and make it how you like. If you’re cooking bok choy for a simple stir-fry, cut the base of the stalk off, but keep as much of the white stalk as possible. Then, you will chop the leaves and stalks into bite-sized chunks for a delicious green addition to your stir-fry.
Cook According to Recipe
After your bok choy is all prepped, you’re ready to cook. There are a lot of different recipes out there with their own preparation methods and flavor profiles to get this vitamin C-filled food into your diet.
But make sure that you read your recipe before beginning the prep process. You wouldn’t want to separate all the bok choy only to find you needed to just chop the entire thing lengthwise!
What Are the Most Popular Ways To Cook Bok Choy?
There are several great ways to prepare bok choy. Let’s walk through some of the cooking methods out there, so you will have many tools in your arsenal to prepare this dish. A common delicious method is braising.
Simmer the bok choy in some water and soy sauce in a covered skillet. The rich flavors of the soy sauce compliment the light bitterness in the leaves, and the hot water quickly cooks the veggie to make it tender.
Cook until the leaves are bright green and the stalks are just slightly soft. This method works well for baby bok choy, but you can also use it for fully grown bok choy.
You could also stir-fry your bok choy with vegetable or sesame oil and aromatics like garlic and ginger. Add soy sauce to taste and throw in some sesame seeds, and you’re good to go.
We mentioned this above, but bok choy also goes great in a salad. Chop your baby bok choy with your other vegetables and toss with a soy sauce vinaigrette or sesame dressing for a great, Asian-style salad.
Finally, a unique way to prepare bok choy is by making kimchi. Kimchi is a delicious, spicy, fermented food that is great for gut health. It takes some time to make, but homemade kimchi is worth it.
Instead of napa cabbage, try bok choy for a unique flavor and texture.
What Goes Well with Bok Choy?
Bok choy is flexible and can play well with many different foods. From veggie stir-fry to stews, bok choy can complement almost any dish and bring a lot to the dinner table.
Mix With Other Vegetables
Bok choy is a great addition to a dish with plenty of veggies. As a member of the cabbage family, it definitely goes well in dishes with cabbage, but it can also pair well with carrots, bell peppers, green onions, mushrooms, snow peas, onions, the list goes on.
Feel free to create a veggie stir fry and serve it over rice for a filling meal packed with flavor and healthy vegetables.
Ginger and Garlic
Let’s be honest, what doesn’t go well with ginger and garlic? They’re great additions to any dish, and bok choy is no exception.
Saute your bok choy with ginger and garlic to incorporate those flavors. This may seem like an overly simple way to prepare it, but there is beauty in simplicity, and garlic and ginger bok choy are classic combinations.
A delicious seafood combination for bok choy is shrimp. Lightly pan fry your bok choy with garlic and ginger, shiitake mushrooms, and fresh shrimp. This garlicky shrimp stir-fry with shiitakes and bok choy is to die for!
Add Steak or Chicken
Bok choy also goes great with other poultry and meat, like chicken and steak. Serve your chicken breast or steak with a side of braised bok choy for a delicious side of greens.
Another great combo is steak, shiitake mushrooms, and bok choy. The savory combo of steak and mushrooms is complimented so well by the mustardy bitterness of the bok choy.
Bok choy is one of those vegetables that may seem intimidating to try at first, but you’ll quickly see how easy and versatile it can be to use. Not only are these greens delicious, but they also carry a lot of great nutrition. They’re high in magnesium, calcium, fiber, and vitamins A and C.
If you’re looking for a place to find delicious bok choy and other quality ingredients, visit Umamicart for Asian groceries delivered right to your door.
You’ll be making delicious bok choy in no time!