It’s curious how foods retaining their foreign names always sound more exotic, more evocative. In Cantonese the character “choy” means “vegetable”, and the character “bok” (or “pak”) means “white”. So, literally translated, bok choy is a white vegetable. Bok choy, or pak choy, is sometimes confusingly referred to as “Chinese celery cabbage” and even “mustard cabbage”. In truth, its appearance and taste resembles Swiss chard more than cabbage, though bok choy is much sweeter.
With its relatives, choy sum, tatsoi and gai lan, this group makes up a good portion of our most popular Asian vegetables. Apart from the obvious stir frying, very small bok choy leaves can be added to noodle broths or spicy soups; baby heads can be blanched and glazed whole in a pan with butter, seasoned with salt and cracked pepper, and served as an accompaniment to meat, fowl or fish; larger heads can be halved, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, grilled on the barbecue and served with your favourite dressing. We now use bok choy in decidedly non-Asian dishes as well. It’s a measure of how well it has come to be accepted.
Bok Choy is relatively easy to grow and is high in vitamin C, beta carotene, folic acid and calcium, as well as many essential minerals.
Separate the leaves and wash well. The green leaf is often cooked separately to the much thicker, paler stalk. In a stir fry, cut off the stalks and slice. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the leaves for 2 minutes.
The inner leaves are tenderer and work well, raw, in salads. The tougher, outer leaves taste better cooked.
Use in stir fries, chopped in salads, braised, roasted or add to a soup for the last few minutes of cooking.
For a quick recipe, chop the Pak Choi and steam for 3-4 minutes. Serve with soy sauce.
Stir Fry Bok Choi
1 bunch bok choy, tatsoi, spinach
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chicken broth
1 small onion, chopped
Red pepper flakes, to taste
2 lemons, juice of
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Get wok hot.
2. Add olive oil, onion, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper flakes, saute for a few minutes.
3. Add chicken broth and lemon juice.
4. Add bok choy and stir on high till done.
1 small Pak Choi (boy choy)
½ inch fresh ginger root
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon sesame oil (or olive oil)
Separate the pak choi leaves and cut off the chunky stalks.Slice the stalks finely. Roughly chop the leaves.
Peel and grate the ginger. Peel and crush the garlic. Heat the oil in a wok until almost smoking. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 minute, stirring often.
Add the pak choi stalks. Mix well. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add the pak choi leaves. Stir and then cook for 1-2 minutes, until they are just wilted. Add to pasta, stir fry, or as a separate veggie.