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Bok Choy
Cooking tips
More of this Feature
Bok Choy Basics

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You should have no trouble finding bok choy at the market all year round. Look for a plant with firm stalks that is free of brown spots. Wrapped in paper towels and stored in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator, bok choy should keep for up to a week.

When the time comes to start cooking, you'll find that bok choy is extremely adaptable. Boiling, steaming, stir-frying and even deep-frying are all possibilities. With full-sized bok choy you'll want to separate the leaves from the stalks, as the thick stalks have a longer cooking time. Rinse both well and drain, then shred or cut across the leaves, and cut the stalks into small slices along the diagonal or as called for in the recipe. When stir-frying, a good basic method is to stir-fry the bok choy for a minute, sprinkling with a bit of salt, then add a small amount of water or chicken broth (about 3 tablespoons per pound of bok choy) cover, and simmer for 2 minutes. (See Shrimp With Chinese Greens or Stir-fry Baby Bok Choy for examples). Adjust the seasonings if desired, adding a bit of sugar during cooking, or stirring in sesame oil at the end. Whichever cooking method you choose, be sure not to overcook the bok choy - the stalks should be tender and the leaves just wilted.

As for Choy sum, it is normally used in stir-fries. There is no need to cook the stalks and leaves separately - just wash the whole and drain and cut into small pieces.

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You'll often find recipes calling for bok choy to be stir-fried with a bit of garlic or perhaps ginger. Oyster sauce and bok choy make an excellent combination; soy sauce is another good choice. If desired, add a bit of cornstarch to the sauce to thicken. Alternately, drizzle a bit of sesame oil over the cooked bok choy before serving. For that matter, you can forego cooking bok choy altogether - the raw stalks make a great mid-afternoon snack. Just remember that there's no need to limit your enjoyment of bok choy to those times when you are preparing Chinese food. With its sweet flavor and crisp texture, bok choy works well with a variety of foods. Feel free to experiment and use it as a substitute for cabbage in other dishes. I recently stumbled across an interesting variation on cabbage rolls using bok choy leaves and Asian seasonings. Or how about corned beef and bok choy? The possibilities are endless!

Cooking Times for Bok Choy

  • Boiling 3 - 4 minutes for the stalks, 1 - 1 1/2 minutes for leaves.
  • Steaming about 6 minutes for the stalks, 2 - 3 minutes for leaves
  • Stir-fry about 5 minutes for stalks, 2 minutes for leaves - the leaves should be just wilted and bright green.

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