How to Use Baby Bok Choy

Wondering how to use bok choy in the kitchen? I’ve got you covered with this guide on how to cook bok choy as well as recipes using 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! There are many ways to use this versatile, healthy leafy green veggie, such as is in grilled bok choy, stir-fries or noodle dishes, bok choy salad, miso soup, roasted bok choy, or a pungent Korean kimchi dish. Follow along with me as I answer your questions, share my top tips on how to cook with it in your kitchen, and inspire you to power up on this vibrant veggie! 

What is Bok Choy?

It is one of two types of Chinese cabbage. Napa cabbage is the other. Unlike the Napa variety, bok choy is a leafy vegetable that literally means “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. 

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.

Yu Choy is in the bok choy family.

Is Bok Choy Healthy?

A member of the Brassica family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, this 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. Dense in vitamins and minerals, yet slim on calories, one cup of cooked bok choy 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.

What Part of Bok Choy Do You Eat?

The entire part of the plant is edible, from the stem to leaves. Even if it flowers, those buds are edible. Can you eat bok choy raw? Yes! You might want to choose baby bok choy, which is more tender, for use in raw salads and dishes.

What Does Bok Choy Taste Like?

Young, tender bok choy has a mild green, cabbage-like flavor with a subtle crisp texture. If it matures, it can develop a slightly stronger flavor. Cooking mellows out the flavors.

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. 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!

Use bok choy in salads—just swap out other greens in the salad, such as in this recipe for Swiss Chard Salad with Oranges and Citrus Vinaigrette.

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!

Use Kimchi—fermented cabbage—in recipes such as Kimchi Veggie Udon Noodle Bowl

3. Make Your Own Kimchi. Traditionally made with Napa cabbage, it 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.

Add to your favorite miso soup, such as this recipe for Easy Kabocha Squash Soup with Miso.

4. Add 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.

Use it to wrap up your favorite sandwich filling, such as Curried Tofu Papaya Wraps.

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:

How to Cook Kohlrabi
Persimmons 101: Health Benefits, Recipes, and More
How to Use Cherimoya
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
How to Cook All Greens

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