Bok choy is a widely loved vegetable that can be cooked in many different ways. We will know the basics about bok choy, how to prepare it, and how to cut bok choy for different types of dishes.
Table of Contents
What's Bok choy
Bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage, is a delicious and nutritious vegetable that can be cooked in multiple different ways. It has white stems with dark green leaves.
The white stem of bok choy is quite crunchy and is super popular for stir-fries. The green leaves are much softer like just other dark green vegetables. Bok Choy is widely used in wonton soups, noodles, or other soups.
Bok choy Benefits
For me, the overall benefits of bok choy are it is delicious and bring me happiness. Overall, bok choy is a super healthy vegetable. It is believed to be super beneficial to the human body. Bok Choy is super low in calories and fat. One single cup is approximately just 9 calories – making it suitable for those on weight-management diets. It is a good source of vitamins A and C. Research shows bok choy also contains powerful polyphenols which can help reduce inflammation in the body while revving up the immune system to fight against a wide range of illnesses. Eating bok choy regularly can have positive impacts on your digestive cardiovascular and overall health. As a year-round vegetable, you can purchase Bok Choy almost every season of the year.
What part of bok choy to eat
You can eat both the stem and the dark leaf parts. Bok choy has a mild flavor and the stem is crunchier. Bok choy leaves are softer and have a sweet taste that makes them perfect for stir-fries.
Types of bok choy
Shanghai Bok choy
This type usually has a much greener and shorter stem, contains more water, and thus is much more tender than the previous type. In most cases, bok choy is referring to this type. It is widely used in quick stir fry, soups, and noodles.
Baby Bok Choy
Sometimes, you may find a smaller bok choy named baby bok choy. They are the same group! Baby bok choy is harvested quite early. It is actually a type of Shanghai Bok Choy.
Creamy bok choy
Creamy bok choy has a super white and firm stem compared with Shanghai Bok Choy. It has a large version and a baby version too. This type is often cooked in stir-fries sometimes with protein like beef, chicken, and shrimp. It is less popular in soups and noodles.
There are two factors that may influence the preparation way of cutting the bok hoy.
Different sizes of Bok Choy
If you buy bok choy in the market, you may find large ("10-11” height), middle ("9” height), or small ones ("4-5” height). We make different treatments based on sizes. All sizes of bok choy can be good for stir-frying. Baby ones are better for soups.
How to cut bok choy
Another factor that may decide how to cut the bok choy is how they are growing, either in water or in solid.
For small and regular bok choy, we usually cut them in halves or quarters.
- How to cut baby bok choy in halves: Trim the root if necessary but don't cut too much to keep the leaves attached. Take a bok choy and slice it lengthwise in one direction to halve the bok choy.
- To cut into quarters: Slice the halved bok choy lengthwise into halves first and then one more time to make 4 separate quarters.
- Separate to leaves: If the bok choy contains lots of solids or is quite large in size, you will need to cut off the root - around 2 cm and then separate the leaves. The single leaves can be used in soups.
- Cut into small pieces: for a larger bok choy with a firmer stem, you need to separate the leaves and then further cut them into smaller pieces. If the leave is large in size, optionally stack leaves on top of each other and slice them in half lengthwise, and then chop across the bok choy.
How to clean bok choy after cutting
After the cutting process, you will still need to clean them before cooking. Follow the steps and make sure the bok choy is well-cleaned and prepared. The cleaning method is also depending on the cutting process.
- For Halved and quartered bok choy, rinse them under running water and separate the stalks to clean the dirt among the layers. Then soak in clean water for around 10 minutes. Drain completely before cooking.
- For sliced or pieced bok choy, cut them first and then wash them in clean water 2 or 3 times. Drain completely before cooking.
Tips for cleaning: be gentle and wash them forcefully. Otherwise, the texture might be spoiled.
How to cook with bok choy
After cutting and cleaning, the following are some great ideas for cooking bok choy
- Stir-fried bok choy - cut the Bok choy into halves, quarters, or slices and stir-fry them with oil, garlic, or oyster sauce. We also have a lovely Chinese version using hot pepper and a numbing Sichuan peppercorn as the main seasoning.
- Bok choy soup - cut bok choy into small pieces and add them to hot soups like bok choy soup with tofu, simple bok choy soup with pork, or even wonton soup and noodle soup.
- Bok choy salad - you can choose to blanch them and serve them with sesame oil, chili peppers, or garlic sauce.
- Bok choy stem stir-fried with pork -the firmer stem can be cooked in stir-fried pork dishes just like other crunchy vegetables.
Further usage of bok choy in Chinese cooking
In Chinese cooking, bok choy can be also pickled just like mustard green and it can be also used to cook rice in one pot. The famous Bok choy rice with pork comes from Shanghai. It provides a hint of freshness and makes a meal super easy and well-balanced.
Bok Choy Purchasing and Storage Tips
- You need to choose fresh, unwilted bok choy with no spots on the stem.
- When bok choy is bought fresh from the store, it is important to refrigerate and consume it within the first few days so that you don’t risk consuming any wilted bok choy.
- Additionally, if you want to lengthen the storage time, you can wrap bok choy loosely in a paper towel so there is some airflow around it and no moisture accumulates inside the package or bag.
- All cooked bok choy dishes should be finished in a single meal. Don't keep the leftovers.
Bok choy is a healthy vegetable that can be cut into halves, quarters or single leaves, or even small pieces. The cutting method is very much depending on the dish you are going to cook, the size of the purchased bok choy, and the condition of the vegetable. Hope you will enjoy it and make more creations based on this lovely vegetable.
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