Néih hóu. Which means Hello in Cantonese. So glad you came. My name is Bok Choy, but I'm sometimes called Pak Choi because I belong to the leafy vegetable pak choi family of Chinese brassicas.
Let me tell you about us, so you will recognise us in your greengrocers. We’re sold in bunches and there are usually 3-4 of us in the bunch. We have white or pale green, thick, crunchy stems with green wide soft leaves. All parts of us can be eaten
We're at our best before and after Easter and in the months leading up to Christmas.
We're a distant relative of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
We are also a very old vegetable that has been growing since 400 AD in the Yangtze Delta in China.
We're sold by type rather than variety, either as the white stemmed type (30cm long) or the light green stemmed type or Shanghai bok choy (15cm). A smaller more compact type (5-7cm) with white stems and dark green leaves is sold as baby bok choy. All three types are commonly sold in Australia.
Ultra healthy, bok choy is loaded with many antioxidant-rich vitamins and minerals.
In many Asian cultures, people believe that food should be their medicine. Bok choy would be a good choice as we're an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps boost your immune system and fight infections.
We're a good source of beta carotene which your body can make into vitamin A. That's a bonus for your eyes because they need vitamin A for good vision.
Like all Chinese leafy green vegetables, we a good source of dietary fibre, as well as some iron, calcium and folate.
100g bok choy has 80 kJ
We're essentially a cool-season crop and grow best in the spring and autumn. Our seeds are sown directly into rich organic soil and start to germinate 5 to 10 days later.
We're a fast-growing vegetable and ready to harvest within 6 to 7 weeks after sowing. We're then picked by hand in the morning (or in cool weather) to prevent our leaves from wilting.
Select those of us with fresh, bright green leaves and crisp, white-to-green stems. Don’t buy bok choy with wilted leaves.
Keep us in the fridge in the vegetable crisper or a paper bag. We’re best eaten within 2-3 days.
My pak choy family of brassicas have been grown in China since the 5th century and from there, we have spread throughout the remainder of Asia.
We were little known in Europe until seeds were sent there in the late 18th century. In Australia Chinese migrants, who arrived during the 1850s Gold Rush, brought their traditional vegetables with them. When the gold run out, many Chinese became market gardeners growing the pak choi family and other leafy green vegetables. Chinese market gardens still exist today.
As well as Asia, we are now grown in Australia, Europe, North and South America and parts of Africa.
To prepare us, wash well in cold water and dry. Trim the base of the stem and separate the leaves. Chop or leave the leaves whole. Thicker stems can be sliced.
When cooking, it’s best to add the stems first and give them a quick cook to slightly soften before adding the leaves.
Our leaves and young, tender stems can be stir-fried, steamed or microwaved until just wilted, about 2-3 minutes. With our slight mustard taste, we're often used in Asian dishes.
Bok Choy And Vegetable Salad
Steam bok choy until wilted. Cool and mix with broccoli, asparagus, baby corn, thinly sliced red capsicum, thinly sliced water chestnuts and shallots. Season French dressing with sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic. Drizzle over salad with roasted cashews.
Bok Choy Quiche
Pan-fry one bunch of chopped bok choy leaves and one diced onion until soft. Drain and spread into a prepared pastry case. Sprinkle with tasty cheese. Mix 2 beaten eggs, 2/3 cups cream and 1/3 cup milk and pour over bok choy. Bake in a moderate oven for 35 minutes or until the filling is set.
Bok Choy Stir-fry
Stir-fry 1 clove minced garlic with 3 cups of chopped vegetables (carrot, celery, capsicum, zucchini, snow peas, beans) in 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Add 1 bunch of chopped bok choy and cook until just wilted. Stir in 2 tablespoons salt-reduced soy sauce and 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce. Serve hot sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds. Pan-fry beef, chicken or fish for added variety.