Top 5 Ways to Use Bok Choy
Have you ever seen a cute little head of bok choy in a supermarket or farmers market and wondered what you could do with it? The answer is plenty! My favorite way to use this leafy green veggie is in Asian stir-fries or noodle dishes, but you can also chop up those tender greens to star in a tasty salad, add them to classic miso soup, or kick them up in a pungent Korean kimchi. Follow along with me as I share my top 5 ways to use bok choy in your kitchen, and power up on this vibrant veggie today!
Bok choy is one of two types of Chinese cabbage. Napa cabbage is the other. Unlike the Napa variety, this leafy vegetable is literally called “white vegetable” in Cantonese; it does not form a head, but is more celery-like in appearance with white stalks and a dark green cluster of leaves. Dense in vitamins and minerals, yet slim on calories, one cup cooked packs 144% DV (Daily Value) of vitamin A, over 70% DV of vitamins C and K, and more than 10% DV of calcium and iron, in only 20 calories.
A member of the Brassica family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, bok choy is a cruciferous vegetable, known as a source of powerful antioxidants, such as vitamins C, E and carotenoids. Along with other cruciferous vegetables, this leafy green is rich in glucosinolates, well known for their role in cancer prevention.
In addition to its various aliases—pak choi, Chinese chard, Chinese mustard and spoon cabbage—baby bok choy, a smaller, sweeter version with a more delicate texture, is often preferred. Look for firm stalks with vibrant green leaves, free of age-related brown and yellow spots. Refrigerate in damp paper towels or in mesh bags up to three days. Separate and cook thick stalks before leaves in a stir fry or sauté, or add whole to broths and stews.
Top 5 Ways to Use Bok Choy
1. Stir Fry to Your Heart’s Content. Bok choy is a stir-fry staple. Quick to cook, it brings bright color and a lovely crunch. All it takes is a splash of oil, a little garlic, ginger, veggies of choice (mushrooms pair well), rice wine or other vinegar, soy sauce, and seasonings. Serve alone or over brown rice or other whole grain. I often plate mine as a bowl, as I do in my Edamame Bok Choy Rice Bowl. The savory, umami flavors shine through in this easy, nutritious, plant-based rice bowl. You can whip up this one-dish meal with 5 ingredients and your favorite quick-cooking brown rice in under 20 minutes!
2. Toss it Up in Super Salads. Baby bok choy is the preferred variety in salads, as it’s more tender, but any variety will do. Stalks add a crunchy texture alongside those tender leaves. Pair it with other favorite leafy greens, like spinach, kale, or arugula or whole grain brown rice, barley, or farro. Apples, pears, and crunchy fuyu persimmons, carrots, and nuts are great with it too. You pretty much can’t go wrong—the fun is in the tasting!
3. Make Your Own Kimchi. Traditionally made with Napa cabbage, bok choy is just as good in kimchi, Korean pickled vegetables. If you’ve never made it, it’s really so simple and so worth it. Essentially, it’s just chopping, salting, and jarring bok choy and other veggies with a slurry of garlic, ginger, and chili flakes—and waiting a few days to a week for it to ferment. It tastes a little sour and a little spicy cradled in umami. Serve it on rice, grain bowls, with pasta, or on a cracker—wherever you want a little flavor kick.
4. Add Bok Choy to Vibrant Soups. There is no miso soup without those ribbons of beloved bok choy. Just heat vegetable stock, miso, tofu, scallions, and bok choy on the stovetop and soup is served. It’s often in traditional Chinese soups too, adding a contrasting texture and color to its creaminess. Really, add this veggie to any soup, stew, or chowder—it couldn’t be easier, and you’ll note the enhancement.
5. Wrap, Roll, and Stuff! Subtle taste, delicate leaves, crunchy stalks—this veggie has the makings of the ideal inside job. Use the leaves as a lettuce alternative in sandwiches or to wrap around sandwich fillings. Roll leaves and chopped stalk inside a tortilla or lavash with lots of veggies, olives, pickles, pesto, and hummus as a sandwich alternative, or stuff them inside Asian potsticker or wonton skins, or use them as an addition to manicotti filling.
Find out how to use more plant foods with these handy guides:
Images: Bok choy from the Pasadena farmers market, Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN