Bok choy is popular as a garden plant or grocery staple, but not everyone knows how to cut bok choy (or prepare it). This vegetable used to be popular only at Chinese restaurants, and many people outside Asia were clueless about its preparation. Luckily, this vegetable is easy to prepare and cook, with various health benefits to offer.
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1. Why Choosing Bok Choy?
Bok choy is a versatile vegetable with delicious taste. It tastes like cabbage, but softer and with a sweeter undertone. Despite the crunchy texture (especially the stalk), bok choy is a non-starchy vegetable.
Therefore, it is good for people with diabetes or weight problem. 1 gram of bok choy only contains 9 to 10 grams of calorie, perfect for healthy diet food.
Bok choy nutrition consists of vitamin A, B6, C, E, and K, which are important for skin, cell rejuvenation, important organs, and immune system.
The vegetable also consists of calcium and folic acid, which are important for bones and brain development, especially if you are pregnant and wanting a healthy baby.
Overcooking can lose most of the nutritional benefits. To get the best flavor and texture, you should cut bok choy properly. The right cuts or slices will improve the cooking efficiency. You can get the right texture and flavor without overcooking the vegetable.
2. Several Ways to Cut Bok Choy
What part of bok choy do you eat? It depends on the size and cooking method. We eat the leaves and stalks of the bok choy, but not the end tips (the ones buried in the soil).
You can cook the dwarf varieties whole, such as in soup or stir-fry, but not the big ones. You must separate the leaves from the stalks and cut them in efficient ways.
Here are several methods to cut large bok choy into more manageable bites:
Break the bok choy into individual parts. Separate the leaves from stalks. Take two stalks and press the curled parts downward. Start cutting with the blade forming 45 degrees angle. For the leaves, take a bunch of them and press them together for quicker slicing.
This slicing method turns the bok choy stalks into thin strips. Break the bok choy, separate the leaves from the stalks, and slice the individual stalk in the middle. Thin bok choy is perfect for stir-fry dish, especially if you add meat and other ingredients in it.
Slicing bok choy into mini slices is great for soup or other dishes with broth. The small cuts will blend nicely with other ingredients and not “drowned” in the broth. You can use the same method with regular slicing, but make the slice smaller (about 1 cm).
Make sure each cut has slightly angled shape. It will increase the surface area for faster cooking. Separating the leaves and stalks is also important for large bok choy, because each part has different cooking time. You should cook the stalks first before adding the leaves, because the stalks need longer cooking time.
3. Should You Wash Bok Choy before Cutting?
Some people wash bok choy before cutting, but you don’t always need to do it. Washing bok choy before storing it will lead to mold and early spoil. If you don’t plan to use it immediately, keep the bok choy in an airtight plastic bag or container. Store it in the vegetable crisper.
If the bok choy is dirty or muddy (especially if you buy it at farmer’s market), wash it thoroughly. Shake off the water from the vegetable and dry it with paper or kitchen towel. Roll the bok choy in a clean paper towel and keep it in the fridge. Do the same thing with baby bok choy.
If you plan to cook bok choy several hours or a day afterward, you can repeat the proper washing and drying methods. Make sure the vegetable is dry before you cut it. Keep the cuts or slices in a rolled paper towel, and put them in the vegetable crisper. The vegetable cuts/slices will retain their freshness until you are ready to cook.
4. Tips to Prepare Bok Choy
To get bok choy benefits and flavor, make sure you cook it the right way. This vegetable is perfect for a wide range of dishes, but you must prepare it properly. Here are several tips to prepare bok choy:
Use in stir-fry
Bok choy is popular in stir-fry dishes because it only needs a short time to cook. Stir-fry dishes keep the ingredients crunchy and nutritious because of the short cooking time. Pour the cut stalks first before adding the leaves (unless you use baby bok choy). Make sure the bok choy retains its bright color before you serve the dish.
Precook the ingredients
If you cook a simple side dish, such as stir-fry tofu, chicken, and bok choy, precook the main ingredients. Boil the tofu and chicken halfway before dicing and throwing them into the pan. Pour the bok choy cuts in the last 2 or 3 minutes. Precooking the ingredients will cut the cooking time.
Eat as salad
Ever heard of bok choy as salad ingredient? Now you do. Bok choy mostly consists of water, which makes the texture crunchy and refreshing. Wash baby bok choy thoroughly and cut it into small pieces (around 1-2 cm). Mix it with chopped scallion, olive oil, lime vinegar, chopped nuts, and sesame seeds.
Use large cuts in soup or noodles
Bok choy is usually cut into small pieces for soup or noodles. However, try switching to larger cuts or even whole baby bok choy. It will add the texture and health benefits to the dish.
You can also try substituting any vegetables in various recipes with bok choy. For example, try replacing cabbage or cauliflower with this vegetable.
Bok choy is no longer limited in Chinese foods or restaurant dishes. You can prepare bok choy like any other green vegetables.
However, you must know how to prepare bok choy properly. Keep the cooking time short, cut the vegetable sideways, or add it in the last minute. With proper cutting and cooking techniques, you can enjoy bok choy without losing the nutritional benefits.