Also known as Chinese cabbage or pak choi, bok choy is a vegetable that originates from China and that is very popular all around the world. If you are new to cooking with bok choy, and you want to put your knives to the test, here you can find a quality knife set under 200, this article is just what you need.
To come to your assistance, we have prepared an inclusive guide that can teach you all you need to know about how to cut and bok choy.
How to choose bok choy
Just like in the case of other vegetables, there are a couple of aspects that you should be aware of when shopping for bok choy. Firstly, you should select bok choy that is firm, compact, and as fresh as possible. The ribs of the vegetable should contain no brown spots and the leaves should not be old.
If you intend to prepare soup, the chefs argue that you should opt for large-leaved bok choy. If you want to stir fry it, opt for plants that are narrower and that have longer stems. If you plan on serving the leaves whole, baby bok choy might be the right option for you.
When it comes to storing it, it should be pointed out that you can keep bok choy in your refrigerator for about 2 to 3 days, provided that you do not wash it beforehand. On average, this plant wilts a bit quicker than head cabbage does.
If you are looking for a milder flavor, it is best to buy baby bok choy. Besides, in this case, you can cook the entire vegetable, without having to break apart its leaves.
Steps you need to take before chopping
To start, you have to cut off the thick base of the stem of the bok choy that you have purchased. To do so, use a sharp knife and cut 1 inch above the actual base. Next, wash each vegetable individually to make sure that you remove all the dirt.
While you are washing the vegetable, take the time to separate the leaves and gently rub them together, as this will allow you to remove all impurities more efficiently. Because the dirt tends to collect near the base of the stalks, be sure to clean this area with extra care. If needed, use a colander to remove/ drain the water.
How to slice bok choy
To slice this vegetable, you have to bunch all the stalks together and to cut off the white stems. The reason why this is important has a lot to do with the different temperatures that are needed for each part of the bok choy to cook.
In other words, because of their size and texture, the stems tend to cook slower than the leaves. So, if you want to enjoy the flavor of this vegetable, you have to cook it accordingly.
Then, cut the stems with a knife that is held at a 45-degree angle. By doing so, you can increase the size of each piece and, thus, you can make sure that the vegetable will cook faster.
After you finish slicing the stems into one-inch pieces, repeat the process while chopping the leaves. If you plan on frying the bok choy, it might be a better idea to cut them in smaller pieces, as this will allow them to cook faster.
How to dice bok choy
To dice this vegetable, cut its leaves off first. Make sure that you are only left with the white stems. Next, slice each stem vertically so that you are left with three long strips of equal size. Next, cut the strips widthwise into small diced pieces. Each piece should measure around ½ an inch.
You can use diced bok choy for soups, as well as for salads. You can eat this vegetable raw, or you can cook it per your preferences.
Why is bok choy so popular?
There are two main reasons why bok choy is so popular – its flavor and crunchiness. Because of its texture and taste, this vegetable is easy to integrate into a wide array of dishes.
On top of that, bok choy is also rich in nutrients and vitamins such as Vitamin C, K, A, B6, as well as beta-carotene. The vegetable is also a good source of calcium and folate.
When it comes to its nutritional value, one single cup of raw bok choy contains 9.1 calories, 0.1 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of carbohydrates, 45.5 mg of sodium. 1.1 grams of proteins, 0.8 grams of sugar, and 0.7 grams of fibers.
Health benefits of eating it
Just like other cruciferous vegetables, bok choy is one of the vegetables that have, according to some studies, anti-cancer properties. So, by eating bok choy regularly, you will be less predisposed to developing colon, prostate, and lung cancer.
Moreover, this vegetable also contains folate, a substance that plays an important role in the repair of DNA. The selenium that bok choy features can also help detoxify your body and decrease the growth rate of tumors.
Because this vegetable is rich in fibers, it can help keep your bowel movements healthy. Plus, it can also feed the bacteria in your gut so that you can enjoy a better digestion and a strong metabolism.
Risks of eating bok choy
You probably know that cruciferous vegetables contain myrosinase, an enzyme that can hinder the performance of your thyroid by actually preventing your body from absorbing iodine correctly. However, it is worth pointing out that cooking the vegetable actually deactivates this enzyme.
Additionally, because bok choy includes vitamin K, a vitamin that has a central role in clotting the blood, it might not be safe to use by those who have to take blood thinners.
To make sure that you lead a healthy life, it is essential that you focus on eating numerous types of foods, and that you don’t simply single out foods that come with some specific benefits.
The easiest way to cook bok choy is to prepare the leaves and the stems separately. For instance, you can simmer the stalks for around 5 minutes and then boil them in salted water for an additional two minutes. Steam the leaves for a couple of seconds. On average, the leaves cook almost instantly.
Seasoned cooks recommend that you avoid overcooking bok choy as this will make this vegetable have a dull taste and a mushy consistency. Some of them advise that you cook it just right, as this will guarantee that the vegetable will taste refreshing. If you want to steam bok choy, you should not steam the vegetables for more than 4 to 5 minutes.
Similarly, if you like exploring with your food, you can try to braise, stir fry, and/or saute bok choy, per your preferences.
As we have mentioned before, you can serve bok choy raw, marinated, or cooked. When you do so, you should prepare the leaves and the stalks separately. You can use the stalks to substitute celery, and you can add the leaves instead of chard or spinach. If you love delicate flavors, you should try baby bok choy. In this case, you should cook the vegetable whole.
In countries such as China and Japan, you can often see bok choy served spiced or picked. If you are interested, you can find step by step instructions about how to marinate or pickle bok choy online.
Can you grow bok choy in your backyard?
The answer to this question is yes. In fact, this biennial plant can be grown in all hardiness zones in the USA. However, the specialists argue that it does best when you plant in areas that have cooler weather. If you grow this vegetable in drier and hotter areas, there is a risk that it will bolt prematurely.
Because bok choy is a heavy feeder, for best results, you must add compost as well as organic fertilizers to your soil before you plant it. The soil that you prepare should be rich in nitrogen, potassium, as well as phosphorus. Bok choy is generally ready to be harvested in no more than 45 to 60 days.
If you enjoy gardening, and you want to find out more about how to grow this plant, you can find detailed guides online, at just one click away.