Brassica rapa ssp. chinensis
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What Is It?
A leafy green member of the diverse Chinese cabbage group. Bok choy, while technically a Chinese cabbage, does not form heads, but instead forms bunches of long, thick stalks.
Available YEAR-ROUND, but best in cool seasons.
Chinese cabbage, Chinese chard, Chinese mustard; bok choi or pak choy/choi (Cantonese transliterations commonly used in English); bái cài or yóu cài (Mandarin); qīng cài (Wu/Shanghainese).
Chinese grocery stores and well-stocked conventional grocers; farmers markets and produce stands
Fresh, vibrant bunches without wilting, holes, or damage. Note that bok choy is sold in several varieties and sizes, and that this may influence your decision-making.
Difficulty: Low – Simply wash the leaves and stems in cold water, making sure to get in between the stalks where dirty can build up.
Can be eaten cooked or raw, the former being more common.
Short Term: Refrigerate
Long Term: Blanch in boiling water, drain and rinse, then freeze.
Green/Mild/Slightly Bitter Bok choy is versatile and relatively mild green vegetable with a somewhat mustard-like flavour.
The different bok choy varieties (i.e. standard and Shanghai) are generally interchangeable, as is Tatsoi (Rosette Bok Choy). Chard is somewhat similar, though more watery. (see “Need More Detail?” below).
Exceptionally important in Chinese cooking, and in East Asia in general. Bok choy has also become a fairly popular healthy green in the West (and in Asian-inspired Western cooking).
Bok choy is mild and versatile enough to use with a wide variety of dishes. Bold Asian sauces and flavours (e.g. soy sauce and garlic) are commonly used.
Bok choy is commonly found in two main varieties: the standard white-stemmed type, and Shanghai Bok Choy, which has emerald green stems. These two types are harvested at a variety of different ages and often marketed using size-specific names.
Extremely high in Vitamin C.
For a full nutritional profile, click Need More Detail? below
The entire plant is generally eaten (with the exception of the roots. Leaves, stalks, and even flowers are all edible.
Health & Science
– Extremely nutrient-dense and healthy.
– Bok choy lacks the oxalate found in many other green veggies (e.g. spinach), making it more friendly to individuals with kidney stones, arthritis, and other related disorders.
– Contain glucosinolates – chemical compounds linked to anti-cancer activity (see below for more information on this subject)
Organic vs. Conventional
Both organic and conventionally grown bok choy is available, though availability may be vary between markets.