Food of the Week: Bok Choy (for 7-26-12)

Bok choy is a vegetable of many names and spellings, though in the U.S. that spelling seems pretty standard. Elsewhere some of its names include “bok choi,” “pak choi,” “pak choy,” and the more ambiguous “Chinese cabbage.” Whatever its name, it is worth your while to get familiar with this vegetable, if you haven’t already.

Bok choy provides a host of important nutrients for a meager 20 calories per cup. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K as well as a good source of folate, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. Like its brassica relatives (broccoli, kale, etc.), it also contains other micronutrients with anticancer properties.

Baby bok choy is less widely available in this region than the mature form of the vegetable, but I have found it at Trader Joe’s. I think it would be fun to try a baby brassica stir-fry, with baby bok choy, brussels sprouts, and broccoli rabe.

Bok Choy with
Sesame-Ginger Dressing

This is one of many similar recipes I found, but I didn’t feel the need to try any others because this was so flavorful.

4 baby bok choy, or 1 lb. regular bok choy

Combine the following dressing ingredients:
2 T. soy sauce
1 t. rice vinegar
1 t. toasted sesame oil
2 t. fresh ginger, minced
½–1 t. chili-garlic paste, or 1/8 t. each chili powder and garlic powder
½ t. toasted sesame seeds (opt.)

If grilling: Heat the grill to medium-high heat, about 400°. Halve the baby bok choy, or chop the regular bok choy and place it in a grilling bowl. Coat the vegetables with the dressing, reserving a bit for brushing and serving. Place the bok choy cut-side down on the grill (or place the bowl on the grill) and cook 3–4 minutes per side, until tender. Serve with the remaining dressing and sesame seeds.

If cooking stovetop: Heat a large saucepan with a small amount of oil to medium-high heat. Coat the vegetables with the dressing, reserving a bit for serving. Sauté the bok choy until tender, then serve with the remaining dressing and sesame seeds.

Note: The recipe I was working off of also included 1 T. oyster sauce.

Chicken Adobo Soup
with Bok Choy

Incredible flavor and easy and quick to make. (If you cut the veggies ahead of time, you could whip this up in a couple minutes of prep time.) Thank you, Mayo Clinic cookbook!

1/3 c. soy sauce
1/3 cup. rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 t. olive oil
½ yellow onion, chopped
4 c. chicken broth
1 ½ c. chicken meat, cooked and shredded
½ c. uncooked couscous, preferably whole grain
½ lb. baby bok choy, chopped
2 green onions, chopped

In a small pot, heat the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and bay leaf over medium heat, just until it comes to a boil. Set aside. In a large pot, cook the onion in the oil until soft. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the soy sauce mixture, chicken, and couscous. Return to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 2 minutes. Add the bok choy and simmer until tender, about 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Serve garnished with green onion.

Deep-Fried Baby Bok Choy

Perhaps you’ve tried a deep-fried candy bar of some kind—why not bok choy? From Barbara Kafka’s short-and-sweetly titled cookbook Vegetable Love.

2 quarts vegetable oil, or as needed
1 c. rice flour
1 T. salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
½ lb. baby bok choy, washed and mostly dried
Lemon wedges for serving (opt.)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Pour 1½–2 inches of oil into a deep 12-in. pan and heat the oil to 350°. In a large bowl, mix together the rice flour, salt, and cayenne. Quickly toss half the bok choy in the mixture to coat lightly. Then turn each bok choy upside down and press into the flour to cover as much as possible. Standing at a safe distance, slip the bok choy one by one into the oil, keeping them apart. Fry for 3 minutes, or until golden brown, turning halfway through. Remove with a slotted spoon onto the parchment. Bring the oil temperature back to 350° and repeat with the remaining bok choy. Serve immediately, with the lemon wedges, or hold in a preheated 350° oven for up to 20 minutes.

Note: Use the smallest baby bok choy available, around two inches long. I could not find any this small, so unfortunately I was not able to test this recipe.

Buckwheat Noodles with Bok Choy and Shiitake Mushrooms

An Annie Somerville recipe. If you don’t have one or two of the smaller ingredients, I would proceed anyway. There are so many interesting flavors you probably won’t miss one.

¼ lb. fresh shiitakes, stems removed and caps sliced
½ large or 2 small heads bok choy, chopped
6 oz. thin dried buckwheat or soba noodles
2 T. vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
1 or 2 fresh jalapenos, thinly sliced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 T. sesame oil
2 T. mirin (sweet cooking sake)
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. cilantro, chopped
1 t. sesame seeds, toasted

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 t. salt and the noodles and cook 8–10 minutes or until just tender. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large pan on medium heat and add the shiitakes and ¼ t. salt. Sauté 3–4 minutes, then add the garlic, ginger, jalapenos, and bok choy, and cook 2 minutes. Drain the pasta, reduce the heat under the pan, and add the green onion, sesame oil, mirin, and soy sauce. Quickly add the noodles, taking care not to overcook the bok choy. Remove from heat, toss the cilantro into the noodles, and season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds before serving.

Note: You could also rehydrate dried shiitakes.