In the Gourmet Variety box and on our Organic Vegetables menu this week you will find a type of immature bok choy called baby bok choy. This green leafy vegetable is a part of the cabbage (barissa) family. It’s scientific name is brassica chinensis, but is commonly referred to as baby bok choy, pak choi (meaning white vegetable), bak choi, choy sum, Chinese chard cabbage, peking cabbage or white cabbage. Television show host Martin Yan who notes that westerners have a “bigger is better” philosophy when it comes to Chinese vegetables. The opposite holds true in China, where the smaller varieties are valued for their tenderness. That is why we prefer baby bok choy over more mature bok choy because it is much more tender and easier to prepare.
Bok choy leaves have been described to taste similar to the leaves of chard. Bok choy’s overall popularity come from its light, sweet flavor, crisp texture and nutritional value. Although it originates in china it has been widely used in other cultures for hundreds of years. In many parts of the phillipeans, for example, it is considered a staple vegetable and has been since the 1500’s when many Chinese people immigrated there. It was first introduced to the Europeans in the 1800’s and has made it’s way to North America. Currently it is widely cultivated in Alberta Canada and right here in California.
Bok choy is well worth eating. It has very little fat or calories and a lot of nutrients. It is especially rich in Vitamin C and fiber. Ounce for ounce it has more nutrients that any other variety of cabbage. It is also easy to prepare. In fact it is not even necessary to cook it. The white stem is edible and has a similar texture to celery without the strings. The leaves can be chopped into salads.
If you prefer to cook your baby bok choy there are a variety of methods. Baby bok choy can be steamed whole and are known for their use in stir fry dishes. Although it can be prepared using any cabbage recipe most people associate it with Chinese style cooking. See the recipe below for a simple side dish.
2 bunches baby bok choy, 1 clove garlic, crushed, 1/2 T. soy sauce, 1/2 t. sugar, 1/2 t. salt, 2 T. water, 1 t. sesame oil
First rinse your bok choy and drain. Cut the leaf portion from the stalk. Stalks should be cut diagonally and leaves cut across. Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan. When oil is hot add garlic and stir fry about 30 seconds. Next add bok choy stalks and fry on high for one minute. Add leaves, soy, sugar, salt and water. Simmer for about two more minutes. Stir in sesame oil and serve.
|Bok choy1 cup cooked|
|Total fat (g)||0.3|
|Saturated fat (g)||0|
|Monounsaturated fat (g)||0|
|Polyunsaturated fat (g)||0.1|
|Dietary fiber (g)||2.7|
|Vitamin C (mg)||44|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.3|