Bok Choy: Know Your Fruits and Veggies™

By Dawn M. Swidorski Food - bok-choy

Bok choy is a member of the cabbage family but bears little resemblance to the round cabbages found in American supermarkets. Bok choy could be described as a non-heading cabbage. It is basically a small plant which grows upright from the ground with smooth white ribs which spread to fine; green oval or round leaves like spinach or collard greens. Fully grown up plant may reach about 12-18 inches in length.

The Chinese commonly refer to bok choy as pak choi or “white vegetable.” Other common names are Chinese cabbage and white cabbage.

Bok Choy is native to China. Archeologists have found Bok Choy seeds in an excavation of a Chinese village that were more than 6,000 years old! The Chinese often praised the vegetable through poetry and other writing. In modern China, bok choy is believed to have medicinal qualities, including battling fever, inflammation, infections and sore throat.

After being grown for thousands of years in China, bok choy made its way to other parts of Asia, Europe, Canada and the United States It only recently became popular in America but remains firmly associated with Chinese cooking. Bok choy is available year-round in America and can be found at ethnic and farmer’s markets as well as many grocery stores.

Bok choy is very low in calories, high in fiber and is an excellent source of vitamin C, rich in Vitamin A and carotenes, and a good source of vitamin K and B6, B5 and B1. It is also a rich source of many vital anti-oxidants and minerals including: calcium, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, iron and magnesium.

Selection and Storage

Today more than 20 varieties of bok choy exist in Hong Kong alone! Although bok choy is available year-round, it is best during winter season. Select bok choy with firm stalks and dark green tender leaves. Avoid plants with wilted leaves or stalks that don’t “stand up”.

Once at home store whole bok choy in the vegetable compartment in the refrigerator set at high relative humidity. It stays fresh for up to 3-4 days.

Preparation and serving methods

Bok choy can be used in all kinds of recipes, including: soup, salads, stir fry or for filling spring rolls, pot stickers, steamed buns and dumplings.

Trim of the base and remove outer discolored leaves. Wash the whole vegetable in cold water. Gently pat dry or place it upside down until all the water drained out.

To prepare, separate the stalks from the base using sparing knife and slice the leaves from the stalks. Thus once you separate leaves and stalks, you may want to add them in to a variety of recipes either combined or individually.

Here are some of the preparation tips:

  • Crispy, sweet bok choy stalks can be eaten raw, added to salads, sandwiches, and burgers.
  • Its stalks can be used with cabbage in coleslaw.
  • Baby bok choy can be a very attractive addition to salads and stir-fries.
  • It mixes well with cabbage, chilies, onion, ginger, garlic, rice, tofu, meat and poultry.

How to Re-Grow Bok Choy

In the category of “you learn something new every day” I stumbled on a website that gave a neat tip on regenerating the base of the Bok Choy into a viable plant! Here’s the link with a couple of other ideas including growing green onions indoors – worth checking out!