Season: Year Round in California
Flavor: Bok choy has a mild, cabbage-like flavor. As with most dark leafy greens, the green part of bok choy has a slightly bitter mineral flavor which can give way to an even, mild and “nutty” flavor. The white stalk is full of water and has a crunchy yet juicy texture. There are a fair amount minerals in the stalk so do use it!
Storage: Store in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator (32 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit) in a paper or perforated plastic bag. Do not wash until you are ready to use. Use within 3-4 days. If you use a non-perforated plastic bag it may keep up to a week but do watch to make sure it doesn’t go bad.
How to use: Separate the vegetable, no matter what size, into stalks and leaves. Cook the stalks first, time depending on size, then add the leaves, which typically take no more than two minutes to wilt. It quickly cooks, especially baby bok choy, and is commonly sautéed with garlic, chili flake, and soy sauce. Bok choy is classically used in Chinese and Japanese cooking, and is a great addition in stir-fry, curries, and soups. You can also cut it thinly and add it to salads, as you would any cabbage. Grilling works well but make sure you layer the leaves on top of something else so they don’t dry out before the stalks are cooked!
Although it will forever be known first and foremost as a Chinese green, the vegetable has worked its way into many cuisines around the world, particularly in the Caribbean, the result of the massive Chinese diaspora of the 19th century. Don’t be surprised if you see “pak choi” or “joy choy” on menus or in markets in Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica or Cuba. Some of these are the many varietals of bok choy and sometimes the names are used interchangeably.
Nutrition: Bok choy is a good source of Vitamin C, potassium and calcium. It is also a great source of beta-carotene, which is a precursor to Vitamin A. For those who do not eat meat or dairy, which are naturally rich in Vitamin A, these dark leafy greens can help fill the gap. Plus, one cup contains just 20 calories!