Bok Choy is a Chinese vegetable that is mild-flavored, juicy, and versatile, which makes it an excellent choice for cooking. Increasingly popular in Western countries and has been around and used for over 4000 years.
If you haven't worked with it before, it is a slightly bitter green with a delicate flavor that includes mustardy spice undertones. You can consume all of it, including the leaves and stems.
It's versatile enough to be used in a variety of dishes. Toss it into a stir-fry or soup, for example, or steam it and add it to a grain bowl for another option. Alternatively, eat it raw in a salad, sandwich, or wrap!
This step-by-step guide will teach you how to cook Bok Choy perfectly every time.
What is Bok Choy?
It is a type of vegetable 3 to 7 inches long, also known as Brassica rapa. The leafy greens are a popular ingredient in many Asian dishes and are often used in stir-fries or soups.
The Chinese name is "dai gai choi," which means "large white vegetable.". Important to understand there is a wide variety, but the most common type is the Shanghai bok choy, which has dark green leaves and white stems.
What Is The Difference Between Baby Bok Choy and Large Bok Choy?
The main difference is the size, baby bok choy is it's smaller and has a more delicate flavor, while large is bigger and more robust. Both types are good sources of vitamins and minerals, but the large contains more nutrients.
How To Cook Bok Choy
Cutting the Bok Choy
- Cut each stalk lengthwise into two long pieces.
- Rinse under water.
Cleaning the Bok Choy
Clean using running water, then place into a bowl of water. Chef Tip, add 1 tablespoon of salt to enhance flavor. Change the water more than once if needed.
How long should Bok Choy be cooked?
It should be cooked until it is tender but still crisp, it usually takes 3-5 minutes but can be cooked longer if desired, but it will become softer in texture the longer it is cooked. When cooking, be sure not to overcook it, or it will lose its flavor and become unpalatable.
Which Is Best, Blanching or Not Blanching?
Some cooks believe it is best to blanch the stem of the large bok choy before stir-frying. The stem takes longer to cook than the leaves. I used to blanch the larger stems separately with boiling water for a few minutes, then add them to the leaves so that they would all cook evenly and become tender-crisp at the same time.
If cooking the baby Bok Choy, I suggest cooking it whole for a nice balance of textures between the stalk root and the leaves.
Once blanched, if you're planning to sear the Bok Choy make sure to dry it before adding it to a hot Wok or skillet with oil.
This will improve the presentation. Wet items only steam and never take on color from the sauteing.
Ways to use Bok Choy
- It can be used as a tasty and nutritious addition to stir-fries.
- It can also be steamed or boiled and served as a side dish.
- Raw makes a great addition to salads.
- It can be added to any dish that calls for spinach or cabbage.
- You can also puree or chop it up and add it to soups.
- It can be grilled or roasted for a unique and delicious vegetable dish.
Stir-frying the Bok Choy
An important step for preparing Bok Choy in a stir fry is to blanch and shock before you fry.
- Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil.
- Add the Bok Choy and let it cook for 2 to 4 minutes.
- Remove it from the pot and place it in a colander.
- Run cold water over it to stop the cooking process.
This step also sets the beautiful vegetable color.
To impart a depth of char smokey flavor, sear the bok choy to caramelize the natural sugars. I suggest giving this a try. Use a wok, cook on medium-high heat, then add high-smoke point oil like peanut oil.
Add the garlic, ginger, chile paste, and hoisin sauce to the oil and cook for 10 seconds, then add the blanched Bok Choy. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes. Cook on the presentation side down first.
Another method, once it is cooled, is to cut it into thin slices. Then, heat a pan on medium plus heat and add oil.
Add the Bok Choy slices to the pan and cook them for 3-5 minutes or until they are tender. Once they are done, remove them from the pan and serve immediately.
How to season Bok Choy
Simple Stir Fry Ingredients
- Peanut Oil
- Sambal Chili Paste
- Hoisin Sauce
One simple way to enjoy bok choy is to lightly steam it and then drizzle it with sauces like soy sauce. Another easy recipe is to add bok choy to your favorite soup recipe. It is also delicious when added to a stir-fry with chicken, shrimp, or beef.
The use of fresh veggies, herbs, and spices elevates the recipe. Use ingredients like ginger, shallots, garlic, and types of peppers.
Sauces like hoisin sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and a touch of sesame oil.
Get creative and experiment with different recipes featuring this healthy and delicious vegetable!
How do you make Bok Choy less bitter?
You can make it less bitter in a few different ways. One way is to blanch it. This involves boiling it for a minute or two and then straining it in cold water. This will help to remove some of the bitterness. Another way is to massage the bok choy. This helps break down some tough fibers and make them more tender. You can also try cooking it in a sweet or savory sauce, which can help offset the bitterness.
Finally, if all else fails, you can try adding a bit of sugar or salt to the bok choy while cooking, as this can help balance the flavors.
Stir-frying Bok Choy tips list
Stir-frying is a quick and easy way to prepare it, and it's a great way to make a healthy dish that the whole family will enjoy.
Here are some tips for stir-frying:
- Heat some oil in a wok or large frying pan over low to medium heat.
- Add the garlic and ginger to the pan and saute until fragrant and lightly browned.
- Add Boy Choy to the pan and stir fry until it starts to take on color or char.
- Turn up the heat and continue to cook until the bok choy is cooked through.
- Season with cashews, or peanuts, then serve immediately.
- If the bok choy is not cooked through, add a little water to the pan and continue stir-frying until it is tender-crisp.
- Avoid overcooking, as it will lose its vibrant color.
What To Serve With It
Here are a few ideas to help you plan your next amazing meal.
Bok Choy Q & A
Can I steam Bok Choy?
To steam bok choy, place the vegetable in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam for three to five minutes until the bok choy is tender.
What are the benefits of eating Bok Choy?
Bok choy is a good source of vitamins A and C. It is also a good fiber source and may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and to prevent cancer.
What does Bok Choy taste like?
Bok choy has a mild flavor. It is slightly sweet and slightly bitter.
Is Bok Choy a vegetable or a fruit?
Bok choy is a vegetable. It is in the Brassica family, which includes other vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage.
Here are a few tips for cooking with Bok Choy
1) If stir-frying, cut the bok choy into uniform pieces so it cooks evenly.
2) Add other vegetables to your stir-fry, such as carrots, mushrooms, and onions.
3) If you are adding Bok Choy to soup, wait to add it until the end so that it doesn't get overcooked.
- Bok Choy Root Bulbs (Recipe can be increased by doubling or tripling the ingredients.) 2
- Peanut Oil (> Use a high-smoke point oil) 2 tablespoon
- Ginger (Minced) 1 tbps
- Garlic (Chopped) 1 tablespoon
- Hoisin Sauce (Substitute: Oyster Sauce, Soy Sauce) 1 tablespoon
- Sambal Chili Paste 1 teaspoon
- Red Pepper Flakes (Use as little, or as much as you enjoy.) ½ teaspoon
- Cutting the Bok ChoyMake a cut from the middle of the root to the top of the leaves, leave the root intact and connected.
- Rinse Off the DirtClean off under running water, then place into a bowl of cold water. Repeat the process until clean.
- Blanch and Shock the Bok ChoyUsing a large pot, fill with water to cover the Bok Choy. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and one tablespoon of vinegar, like rice wine vinegar. Chef Tip: Seasoning in layers is the path to excellent tasting food.Cooking: Blanch the vegetable on high temperature for 4 minutes.Shocking: After the time is up, move to an ice bath asap. This will stop the cooking and SET the color. If cooked for longer, the color will begin to fade and look off-putting.
- Cooking OilUse a large skillet or Wok. Heat to high heat, but not 100%, 80% of max heat.Once to temperature, add in your cooking oil. Use a high smoke point oil like peanut or canola oil.Chef Tip: High-Heat - If the oil becomes oxidized from getting too hot, the oil will add an odd flavor. The oxidation happens from a heat source that is too hot for the type of oil. Use a high smoke point oil like peanut oil or canola oil.
- Stir Fry of the Bok ChoyThe ingredients to add to the hot oil are minced garlic, fresh ginger, Sambal chili paste, and Hoisin sauce. Stir all ingredients together for 15 seconds, then add the Bok Choy, cut side down. Saute until the amount of color or char you enjoy.
- Cooking TimeThe amount of cooking time will depend on how much color or presentation of char you enjoy. Cook between 2 to 6 minutes.When cooking a large amount, cooking in batches is needed to create a char for presentation and flavor.
- Finishing the DishAdding additional textures like chopped cashews or peanut is very traditional.With the Bok Choy perfectly cooked, there are many options for finishing the dish.Adding ingredients like snow peas, mushrooms, and noodles like vermicelli, sliced carrot, peas, and water chestnuts.Each ingredient adds texture. Chopping up the Bok Choy is another idea for your stir fry.Enjoy!