Bok choy, a staple in Chinese cuisine, offers a delightful combination of vibrant green leaves and a subtly bitter taste. Whether you want to use it in stir-fries, soups, or as a standalone side dish, mastering the art of cooking bok choy is essential. In this tutorial, we’ll walk you through the process, providing valuable insights and tips along the way.
What is Bok Choy?
Also known as pak choi or pok choi, bok choy belongs to the Chinese cabbage family. Its appearance resembles mustard greens, with clustered growth and long green leaves. Chinese culinary tradition has cherished bok choy for centuries, as it was initially embraced for its medicinal benefits. It made its way to North America during the 19th century.
Bok choy possesses a mild taste, akin to cabbage but with added hints of bitterness and pepperiness.
How to Cut Bok Choy
While the entire plant is edible, it’s advisable to trim off the base since its texture tends to be tougher compared to the rest of the vegetable. Thoroughly rinsing each bulb is crucial to remove any dirt and granules.
Whether you opt for large bok choy or baby bok choy doesn’t significantly impact the cooking process. Baby bok choy is favored by many due to its tender stalks, but personal preference plays a role.
- For bok choy halves: Slice each bulb lengthwise in the center and rinse them well under cold water. Use your favorite cooking method or recipe, whether as a side dish, served with rice and a simple sauce, or added to soups.
- For chopped bok choy: Separate the stalks, place them in a colander, and rinse off any dirt or sand. After draining and patting them dry, chop the stalks into bite-sized pieces or on the bias. This method is ideal for stir-fries, soups, fried rice, or noodles. Use your preferred cooking method or recipe.
Sautéed and Stir-Fried Bok Choy
For both sautéing and stir-frying bok choy, follow these simple steps:
- Cut the bok choy in half lengthwise or into bite-sized pieces. Rinse them well to remove any dirt or sand, then drain and pat them dry.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes until it’s hot. Add a tablespoon of oil and swirl it around to coat the pan.
- Place the bok choy in the pan, cut side down for halves, and stir frequently for bite-sized pieces using chopsticks or a sauté spoon.
- If using a sauce, add it just before turning off the heat to allow any excess water to evaporate.
- Add garlic and/or ginger one minute before finishing to prevent burning.
To stir-fry bok choy:
- Repeat the cutting and rinsing steps mentioned above.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat for 1-2 minutes until it’s very hot. Add a tablespoon of oil and swirl it around to coat the pan.
- Cook the bok choy as mentioned earlier, adjusting the cooking time accordingly.
My Favorite Ways to Eat Sautéed or Stir-Fried Bok Choy:
- With garlic and oyster sauce
- With Maggie seasoning
- With spicy chili crisp
- With a mix of miso paste, soy sauce, and mirin (recipe available at the end of the post)
Grilled Bok Choy
Grilling bok choy adds a unique smoky flavor to the vegetable. Here’s how to do it:
- Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
- Slice the bok choy in half lengthwise and lightly brush both sides with oil.
- Place the bok choy, cut side facing down, on the grill and close it.
- Grill for 2-3 minutes until golden brown, then flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
My Favorite Ways to Eat Grilled Bok Choy:
- With a little butter and soy sauce
- Grated parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice
- Fish sauce and Thai chilis
Steamed Bok Choy
Steaming bok choy retains its natural flavors and nutrients. Follow these steps:
- Fill a pot with 2 inches of water and bring it to a boil.
- Cut the bok choy in half lengthwise or into bite-sized pieces, rinse them well, and drain.
- Place the bok choy in a steamer basket over the simmering water.
- Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and steam for 4-6 minutes until it reaches your desired consistency.
My Favorite Ways to Eat Steamed Bok Choy:
- With braised shiitake mushrooms and a mix of hoisin sauce and oyster sauce
- Dressed with a little Kewpie mayo and sichimi togarashi
- With black bean sauce
Boiled Bok Choy
Boiling bok choy is a straightforward method that preserves its natural flavors. Here’s how:
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt.
- Slice the bok choy in half lengthwise, rinse it well, and drain.
- Add the bok choy to the boiling water and reduce the heat to medium-low. Boil it for 4-6 minutes until it reaches your desired consistency.
- Drain well and serve.
My Favorite Ways to Eat Boiled Bok Choy:
- In soups! Instead of boiling them in water, I prefer using dashi, vegetable or chicken broth, along with other vegetables.
- With ramen or udon noodles that come with seasoning for the soup. I add the bok choy at the same time as the noodles.
Roasted Bok Choy
Roasting bok choy adds a delightful caramelized flavor to the vegetable. Here’s how:
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Slice the bok choy in half lengthwise or into bite-sized pieces. Rinse them well, drain, and pat them dry.
- Place the bok choy on a baking tray and toss them with 1-2 tablespoons of oil (use one tablespoon for every 8 ounces of bok choy).
- Season with salt and pepper, ensuring the bok choy lays flat on the tray.
- Roast in the center rack for 6-8 minutes, or until it reaches your desired consistency.
My Favorite Ways to Eat Roasted Bok Choy:
- With peanut sauce
- Brushed with miso paste and rice vinegar
- With chili garlic sauce or sriracha sauce
- Topped with chopped kimchi, a drizzle of sesame oil, and sesame seeds
How to Store Bok Choy
To ensure bok choy remains fresh, follow these storage guidelines:
- Avoid washing bok choy before storing it, as moisture can lead to rot. If already washed, ensure it’s entirely dry before storage.
- Store bok choy in a sealed plastic bag in your refrigerator’s crisper. It should remain fresh for approximately 4-6 days. Alternatively, wrap it in paper towels before sealing it in a plastic bag to extend its lifespan by a couple of days.
Can Bok Choy be frozen?
Yes, bok choy can be frozen! However, ensure the leaves and stems are completely dry before freezing. Place them in an airtight storage bag, remove excess air, and seal tightly. Frozen bok choy can be kept for 10-12 months.
Some of my favorite bok choy recipes from the blog include:
- Quick shrimp stir-fry
- Baby bok choy soup with garlic and ginger
- Bok choy with garlic and oyster sauce
- Miso salmon with bok choy
Did you find this How to Cook Bok Choy Tutorial helpful? Feel free to share any changes or tips you have in the comments section below! And don’t forget to visit BDK Restaurant for more delicious recipes and culinary inspiration.