New Food Friday – Bok Choy or Pak Choi

21 Feb

If you haven’t tried Bok Choy, you don’t know what you’re missing! Bok Choy is my choice for this New Food Friday.

This Asian staple is full of vitamin A, C, and is high in calcium and many other nutrients.  It resembles celery but doesn’t taste like it and it’s juicy like celery, maybe even juicer. I like to munch on it raw while I’m preparing it for a stir-fry or a soup. Bok Choy is in the cabbage family but it doesn’t taste like cabbage either. Its taste reminds me of escarole except that Bok Choy is mildly sweet and has a slight peppery bite at the end.

The leaves of Bok Choy are very dark green but the stalks are very white.

Bok Choy Stalks

Bok Choy Leaves

It’s a beautiful vegetable! The Chinese have been cultivating it for over 5,000 years.

Recently, my local Meijer had Bok Choy on sale for 88 cents a pound. Oh happy day! I bought 1.75 pounds of it!

Bunch of Bok Choy

Bundled Bok Choy – 1.75 pounds

There are two versions of Bok Choy in this country: there is the Baby Bok Choy and the regular Bok Choy. I’ve purchased both in the past and they taste the same to me. It may be more convenient to cook the Baby Bok Choy because you can cook it whole.

Baby Bok Choy

Baby Bok Choy or Pak Choi (sxc.hu – MeiTeng)

You couldn’t cook the regular Bok Choy whole because you wouldn’t have a pan large enough! I like the larger version which can sometimes be quite large! Ginormous, in fact, so you can expect more prep time with it. Don’t wash it until you’re ready to use it. Bok Choy stays fresh for up to a week in the fridge.

In my research for this post, I was surprised to learn that Bok Choy falls under the category of cruciferous vegetables. As you may well know, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower) contain anti-cancer compounds. All the more reason to try, buy, stir-fry Bok Choy!

Cooking Bok Choy

I typically cook all greens the same way when I use them for a side dish: olive oil, garlic, a few tablespoons of water or broth, cover and cook in my large fry pan. Bok Choy is good this way. But I decided to do a stir-fry with chicken. I found two recipes online that I liked and I combined them and tweaked them too. The results were delicious. I’m posting the recipe for you below. Since one recipe was Chinese and the other was Thai, I’m calling it:

Chinese-Thai Almond Chicken Stir-Fry

1 Tablespoon oil (peanut or coconut, I used olive oil)

1/2 cup whole almonds

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast

1 Tablespoon soy sauce (reduced sodium is best)

1 Tablespoon oyster sauce

Oyster Sauce

Oyster Sauce

1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

8 oz (more or less) rinsed Bok Choy cut into bite-sized pieces

2-3 Tablespoons Chicken broth if pan seems dry

You can add mushrooms, thinly sliced onions, or whatever you like to this. I added 1/4 cup thinly sliced carrots and 1/4 cup chopped celery.

To thicken gravy

1 Tablespoon corn starch

1/4 cup cold water

Stir together then pour into pan at the end of cooking until gravy thickens. (I did not do this step. See below.)

Directions

In a small bowl add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice. Stir the mixture well to melt the sugar. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a fry pan or wok and add the almonds and heat on medium-high heat until golden about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn! Remove from pan.

Stir-fry thinly sliced chicken breast in same pan for 2-3 minutes. Add the Bok Choy, then the carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions, or whatever you like and spoon 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce mixture over it; stir and cook 2 minutes. (Cook longer and cover if you prefer your veggies less crispy.) Add a few tablespoons of broth if the mixture seems dry. Taste. If you like it spicier and saltier, add the rest of the soy sauce mixture. If you have any leftover, you can use it to baste most meats. I reserved my leftover for my next Bok Choy meal using the same recipe but substituting bay scallops in place of the chicken. (It wasn’t as good as the chicken.)

Serve with the sprinkled almonds on top. This is a very nutritious dish, low in calories, high in fiber, high in calcium, but also high in sodium which is why I suggested you taste the dish before adding all the soy sauce mixture. If you’re watching your sodium intake you may not want to use all the soy sauce mixture.

This dish is great served over rice and is the typical way it would be served. I wanted to try something different. I already had a pan of polenta that I had made the day before and feeling adventurous, I decided to try it in place of the rice.

Polenta instead of rice with Bok Choy

Polenta with Bok Choy

It was just as good! In fact, it thickened the gravy without using the cornstarch mixture. I liked this recipe so much that I decided to make it again, this time with brown rice.

Bok Choy dish

Bok Choy with a drizzle of sweet & sour sauce and mustard

 

Whichever way you try it, be sure you do try it! It’s delicious!

qǐng màn yòng!

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11 Responses to “New Food Friday – Bok Choy or Pak Choi”

  1. ContentRambler March 10, 2014 at 3:38 am #

    I’m a stir-fry person myself. I love the fact that you can use nearly every bit of the plant – even though some recipes suggest you only use part of it. It’s like having two kinds of vegetable in one: the crunchy, juicy white and the leafy green. Great with Indonesian food (soy, red peppers) or in a mild curry.

    Like

    • Marcella Rousseau March 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

      Really? Some recipes suggest you only use part of the bok choy? I hadn’t come across that. The texture is different if you eat the two parts raw. Maybe even the taste. Once you cook it though…..hmmm. I never thought about it until you just mentioned it!

      Like

  2. Prince Greenhouses February 22, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    I LOVE Bok Choi!!! We grow a ton here on the farm and I am always telling my customers how great it is. Glad to see that I’m not the only one who loves this veggie.

    Like

    • Marcella Rousseau February 26, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

      I have been on a Bok Choy bender recently. I just love the flavor raw, sauted, or boiled. It’s all good! No matter how you spell it, it’s a winner! : – )

      Like

  3. Gerard Villanueva February 22, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    Great pick for New Food Friday. I’ve used bok choy at my job but never really appreciated how good it is for you. Your recipes look flavor packed! I bet it’s good adapting it to an all vegetable stir fry. You’ve inspired me to use bok choy again!

    Like

    • Marcella Rousseau February 26, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

      Glad to have been inspirational! Let me know if you come up with anything you’d recommend in your stir fry. My recipes were delicious if I do say so myself!

      Like

  4. silverbells2012 February 22, 2014 at 3:05 am #

    What a coincidence – I’ve just been reading about bok choy on another blog – the health benefits of… I haven’t got into this vegetable yet, though I did try to grow some a couple of years back. It didn’t do too well, which surprised me considering how well broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables do in my garden. Will try it again – at the allotment – next year perhaps.

    Happy eating!

    Like

    • Marcella Rousseau February 27, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

      Tell me, when you grew the bok choy, did you find that the bugs avoided it? Maybe the bok choy seeds you had were poor in some way? It’s possible that they need more water than most vegetables considering how full of water they are!

      Like

      • silverbells2012 February 27, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

        I could be the water issue, though I suspect it was planted a bit too late. I can’t remember about the bugs – it was covered in fleece though!

        Like

  5. Three Well Beings February 22, 2014 at 12:18 am #

    I’ve been curious about how to incorporate Bok Choy. You’ve made this very simple, so thank you!

    Like

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