What Is Bok Choy?

Explains the nutritional benefits that can be gained by using bok choy in cooking. Also details where it is grown and how it is used.

Bok choy, otherwise known as bak choi, paak choi, Chinese chard cabbage and Chinese mustard cabbage is a vegetable that resembles celery although it is actually a member of the cabbage family. It has thick, white stalks and dark green leaves that have a round shape.

Bok choy has been cultivated in China for centuries and is now commonly grown in Alberta, Canada and in California, USA. Bok choy is also grown in Europe where it was introduced in the 1700's. It is available year round, except in July and August, and it is best when purchased in the Fall and Winter. Currently, you can buy bok choy in many ethnic grocery stores and in many larger supermarket chains. It is becoming popular to use for cooking because it has a mild taste, similar to cabbage, and can be used in many recipes, either raw, as in salads, or cooked for use in soups and in stir-fries.

When purchasing bok choy, select stalks that are pure white and firm. Additionally, look for leaves that are dark green and non-wilted. Do not select bok choy that has any brown spots on its leaves, as this type of bok choy is less flavorful. Baby bok choy, which is a younger version of bok choy, should also be purchased according to these standards. Once purchased, you can safely store bok choy in your home for up to three days provided that you refrigerate the bok choy in a plastic bag as soon as you arrive home with your purchase.

Because bok choy is a member of the cabbage family, you can cook it as you would a cabbage. When cooked, it has a sweet flavor and its stalks are firm. Baby bok choy is best when cooked whole and used as a side dish to a meat entrée. However, when cooking mature bok choy, do not cook it whole. Instead, first remove its leaves from their stalks and cut the stalks into pieces. Next, take the leaves that were removed and cut them into pieces as well. Both bok choy's stalks and leaves are edible. Common uses for mature bok choy include steaming or boiling it then adding seasonings to the bok choy such as soy sauce, ginger, or hot peppers. You can also eat the raw stalks of both the baby and mature bok choy.

Another reason that bok choy is becoming popular to use, besides its similarity to cabbage, is because of its nutritional value. One half cup of raw bok choy, which is approximately 56 grams, contains only 10 calories. Additionally, bok choy contains no fat or cholesterol and is a good source of calcium. It is also low in sodium and high in vitamins C and A. Because both bok choy's stalks and leaves can be used in salads, it also provides a delicious and healthy meal for those who are on a diet. Bok choy is also easy to prepare. You need only wash the bok choy, chop it, then use it as you desire; for example, you can microwave or steam it for a simple and quick side dish or main meal.

Bok choy is a vegetable that will continue to be used in many international kitchens because it is a tasty alternative to cabbage as well as a healthy dietary addition.

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