Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage which has stalks and smooth, green leaves, similar to celery. It is a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K and also supplies folate, vitamin B6, and calcium. In her article “Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables,” Dr. Jennifer Di Noia ranked bok choy #2 for nutrient density out of 41 nutrient rich plants!
Storing Fresh Bok Choy:
Bok choy should be used within a few days of harvesting. In the meantime, store it in a perforated plastic bag or in a ziplock bag that is not completely sealed in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Do not wash it until right before you are ready to eat it, as this will cause it to wilt faster.
Freezing Bok Choy:
Although many sources recommend blanching your bok choy before freezing it, this step causes the vegetable to lose all its wonderful crispness, becoming mushy and unappetizing by the time you thaw and prepare it.
To keep your bok choy tasting fresh, trim the base, and wipe down the stems and leaves with a lightly damp tea towel or paper towel, using the minimum amount of moisture necessary. In this case, moisture is the enemy of crispness! Once the leaves and stalks are clean, chop both the leaves and stems into pieces. Pack them into quart-sized freezer bags. Press all the air out of each bag, seal, and freeze.
Pickling Bok Choy:
Because it is a bit delicate, bok choy performs better when using either a fermentation style, like that of kimchi. A good starting point is this Vietnamese-style recipe which requires only bok choy (called gai choi in the recipe), onion, salt, sugar, and vinegar.
Quick Prep Tips
Further Prep Tips
Bok Choy Preparation:
Bok choy tends to be sandy and gritty, so make sure you rinse it well before eating it. If you’re planning on grilling or roasting it, cut the entire bundle in half lengthwise, so that the stems are still held together by the base. Soak in a cold water bath for a few minutes and then agitate the bok choy in the water to dislodge any grit. Spin or pat dry and proceed to eat raw or to cook.
If you’re planning on sautéeing or stir frying the bok choy, chop off the very end of the stem–the part that holds all the stalks together. At this point, if it’s easier for you to chop the vegetable up, while the stalks and leaves are all still gathered together, go right ahead!
Rinse the bok choy in cold water, making sure you dislodge any silt and grit. I like to fill up my kitchen sink and plunge the vegetables right in, repeating this two to three times. From here, a salad spinner works best for removing any excess water, although a tea towel can be used to pat the pieces dry instead.
Bok choy is quite delicate and will cook in approximately 3-5 minutes, so keep your eye on it once it hits heat. While the leaves will wilt, the stalks will still have a bit of a crunch left in it, even when cooked. It pairs wonderfully with soy sauce, sesame, and ginger, but a simple olive oil, salt, and pepper seasoning for the grill or the oven is equally delicious.