October 15, 2010
Kathy Patrick, Personal and Entertainment Chef
“The Healthy Gourmet”
Bok Choy – Oh boy!
Bok Choy is a favorite treat of mine. Since bok choy is a member of the cabbage family I feel a little weird calling it a treat (certainly not in the league of, say, homemade apple crisp with butter pecan ice cream!) but bok choy is so tasty and versatile that I really do consider it a treat.
It used to be hard to find bok choy in Rome stores but I have been seeing it more frequently. Years ago it took a road trip to big farmers markets in other cities to score some of this delectable cabbage but apparently it has become more popular with local produce managers – and I am glad!
Bok choy is in season now at local farmers markets and will be in its prime throughout the fall and winter. Bok choy has been cultivated in China for centuries. It was introduced to Europe in the 1700’s and today it grows extensively in North America in California and western Canada. It can be used raw, as in salads, or in soups, in stews, stir fried, or braised.
Bok choy is known as “the white cabbage” with its thick white stalks and deep green leaves. The stalks resemble celery without the strings, and the leaves have a somewhat sweet taste when cooked. There are several sizes of bok choy: mature bok choy, baby bok choy, and if you are lucky you can find baby bok choy junior in markets. In my opinion, bok choy is a case where bigger is not better — the tiny baby bok choy juniors are my favorite! If you fine mature bok choy just separate the stalks from the leaves when cooking (regardless of the cooking method) as the thicker stalks tend to take longer to cook. So con the larger bok choys – those that are greater thand 6” long – cut between the white and the green parts, then cut each into smaller pieces and cook the white part first until tender then add the green parts for a quick cook.
One of the reasons bok choy may be gaining popularity is its nutritional value along with its great taste: One half cup of raw bok choy contains only 10 calories, has no fat or cholesterol and is a good source of calcium. It is also low in sodium and high in vitamins C and A. So eat up!
My favorite way to have bok choy is easy, easy, easy:
Stir Fried Bok Choy with Sesame Seeds Serves 4
- Heat a wok over high heat
- Add 1 t toasted sesame oil and flash fry the white stalks of 6 bok choy stalks till tender
- Add the green parts of the bok choy and stir fry till limp
- Remove from the heat and add a few splashes of light soy sauce and top with some sesame seeds
And here are 2 other great ways to use bok choy:
Bok Choy Salad Serves 6
2 (3-ounce) packages ramen noodle soup mix
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
8 bok choy stems, chopped (use 12 – 14 baby bok choy stems)
6 green onions, chopped
1. Remove flavor packets from soup mix; reserve for another use. Crumble noodles.
2. Combine noodles, sunflower seeds, and almonds on a 15- x 10-inch jellyroll pan and bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown; set aside.
3. Bring sugar and next 3 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; cool.
4. Place bok choy and green onions in a large bowl. Drizzle with sugar mixture. Add ramen noodle mixture, tossing well. Serve immediately.
Five Spice Chicken Noodle Soup Serves 4
2 cups water
1 (14 ounce) can reduced sodium chicken broth
2 green onions, thinly bias-sliced
2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice powder
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups chopped bok choy
1 medium sweet red pepper, thinly sliced into strips (or may use 1 cup chopped carrot)
2 ounces dried soba noodles, broken into 2” lengths or 2 ounces fine dried noodles
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
- In a large saucepan combine water, chicken broth, green onions, soy sauce, garlic, five-spice powder, and ginger; bring to boiling.
- Stir in bok choy, sweet pepper strips (or carrots), and noodles; return to boiling, reduce heat to a gently boil. Keep at the gentle boil, uncovered, 3 to 5 minutes or until noodles are tender.
- Stir in chicken, heat through and serve.