Bok choy: The Crunchy Chinese Cabbage

Bok choy is a staple vegetable in Asian cuisine that can be tossed into salads, stirred into soups, fermented into kimchi, and seared, steamed, or roasted to turn it into a delicious side dish.

What is Bok Choy?

Bok choy, aka pok choy or pak choy, is a type of Chinese cabbage closely related to kale, Brussels sprouts, and turnips. It’s distinguished by its white bulbous bottoms and dark green leaf blades clustered on the top. Bok choy is popular in Southern China, and East and Southeast Asian countries. In the United States there are two varieties of bok choy named “regular bok choy” and “Shanghai bok choy” which can be easily found in most Asian grocery stores.

Image Credit: Yuchi Yang from Pixabay 

What does Bok Choy taste like?

Bok choy offers a mild, grassy, slightly sweet, peppery, and pleasantly bitter flavor like cabbage, spinach, and mustard. The green leafy part is strongly flavored like spinach while the white bulb is juicy and crunchy, similar to celery stalks. 

The taste of bok choy greatly depends on whether it’s unripe or fully matured. For instance, the leaves of baby bok choy are mild, lightly sweet, lettuce-like in flavor, and often used raw in salads. However, upon ripening, its bitter flavors are more pronounced, making stir-frying and steaming one of the best cooking options for matured bok choy.

What to do with Bok Choy?

Bok choy is a versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw in salads, slaws, wraps, and sandwiches. However, it tastes its best when sauteed, stir-fried, roasted, steamed, or braised. It’s recommended not to overcook bok choy as it easily loses its crispiness and gets mushy. Try using raw baby bok choy in our recipes for Shrimp Satay, Gado Gado, and Braised Pork in place of cabbage to uncover the flavor potential of bok choy. 

Crispy-browned baby bok choy makes a great accompaniment to steaks, roasted chicken, beef, and pork. Some common bok choy pairings are beans, mushrooms, cashews, carrots, bell peppers, green onions, scallions, lemongrass, citrus, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame seeds. 

Looking out for ways to use bok choy in cooking? These easy-to-make and simple recipes will guide you to attain the best use of bok choy with minimal effort.

●      Hoisin Salmon

      Beef and Bok Choy in Shaoxing Wine Sauce


You can also use baby bok choy in place of napa cabbage to make fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and banchan.

Feature Image: CSU-Extension from Pixabay 

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