What the Heck is Bok Choy?

Sometimes I get bored of the same old vegetables. Don’t get me wrong, I love peas and green beans and celery and asparagus and all the other likely veggie suspects. But how many times can I roast cauliflower or steam broccoli or green beans before I run out of ways to dress them, sauce them over or fricassee them and not feel like I’m rewind mode? That’s the moment I start looking for the fun veggies that make my family sit up and take notice and say, “what the heck is this stuff?” One of my absolute favorite, guess what this is vegetables, is bok choy.

          Bok choy is a dark leafy green cabbage family generally associated with oriental recipes often found in soups, stir fries and as a steamed side dish. Bok choy is chock full of vitamins A and C and calcium and delicious. Hummm, remind me again why I don’t use it as often as I could or should.  

Bok choy is pretty much available year around.  You should look for firm stalks and pass up any with brown spots. When you’re getting ready to use it cut off most of the base of the stalks before washing it so that the dirt that collects between the stalks can be thoroughly washed away. Some people like to separate the stalks from the leaves before they cook it because the thicker stalks have a longer cooking time than the leaves. If the stalk isn’t cooked whole, bok choy is typically shredded because it’s quicker to cook if cut into smaller pieces. Whichever cooking method you choose, be sure not to overcook the bok choy, the stalks should cooked to be just tender and the leaves should be just wilted.
         Bok choy pares well most oriental flavors and is especially tasty with soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil. With its subtle flavor and crispy texture, bok choy can be used as a substitute for cabbage in most dishes. It’s equally delicious raw, steamed or stir fried and its inexpensive so that it’s a perfect fit for every budget.

 

ALLISON’S ORANGE AND BOK CHOY SALAD (pareve)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons apple cider or rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper

6 cups bok choy, shredded

2 cups red cabbage, shredded

1 red onion, sliced thin

2 10 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained

2 avocados slice and chopped

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 to 2 packages Ramen noodles, crushed (discard the seasoning packets or save for later)

In a bowl combine the oil, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside. In a bowl combine the bok choy, cabbage, onion, oranges and avocado.  Toss to combine. Pour the dressing over salad and toss to combine. Top with the almonds and ramen noodles. Toss to combine. Serves 6

Submitted by Allison Garrison Chicago IL

ORIENTAL BOK CHOY AND CHICKEN SALAD (meat)

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, grilled, cut into bite sized pieces (or leftover chicken)

1/3 cup green onions, sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 lb pea pods, cut in half diagonally, blanched

1 lb bok choy, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, peeled, cut in half, seeded and sliced thin

2 cups shredded red cabbage

1 red pepper, diced

1/2 cup garbanzo beans

3 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 cup rice noodles or chow mien noodles

 In a large bowl combine the chicken, parsley, cabbage, green onions, peas pods bok choy, cucumber, red pepper and garbanzo beans. Mix to combine. In another bowl combine the vinegar, oils, ginger and peanut butter. Whisk to combine and season with salt and pepper. If the dressing is too thick add a little more vinegar. Add dressing to salad; toss to coat. Top with the rice noodles. Serves 4 to 6.

VIETNAMESE STIR FRY BEEF WITH BOK CHOY WITH CRISPY NOODLE CAKE (meat)

1 pound  steak

1 pound bok choy (3 cups sliced)

10 green onions, sliced

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

Dash or two of hot sauce

1 tablespoon minced ginger, divided

2 cups red bell peppers, sliced

Crispy Noodle Cake

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

3/4 pound angel-hair pasta or thin noodles

2 teaspoons oil

Sauce

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Crispy Noodle Cake: Preheat boiler. Line a baking tray with foil and spray with vegetable-oil cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles. As soon as water returns to a boil, drain noodles and rinse under cold water. Shake dry and spread out evenly on the baking tray. Sprinkle oil over noodles and spray with vegetable-oil cooking spray. Place noodles on the middle rack of the oven. Keep an eye on them as you prepare the beef. When noodles are crisp, after about 10 minutes, remove and flip onto other side. Spray with oil again and return to broiler for another 5 minutes. To serve, cut noodles into 4 portions with sharp scissors or a knife and transfer to individual plates. Cut each cake into 2-inch squares. Spoon beef, vegetables and sauce on top.

Helpful Hint: The noodles will need to be turned. The easiest way to do this is to loosen them on the tray all around the edges, cut into 4 sections and, with a spatula, flip each section.

For sauce: Mix all ingredients together.

For beef and bok choy: Remove fat from beef. Slice into 1/2-inch-wide strips 2 to 3 inches long. Wash and dry bok choy. Slice on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Slice scallions on the diagonal.

Heat wok and add oil. Add half the garlic and half the ginger and fry until golden, about 30 seconds. Add the bok choy, green onions and peppers and stir-fry until wilted but still crunchy, about 2 minutes. Remove to a warm serving plate. Add remaining garlic and ginger to wok and stir-fry until golden, about 30 seconds. Add beef and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove to plate with vegetables. Add the sauce and hot sauce to wok and stir to prevent lumping. Heat until sauce bubbles. Add vegetables and beef to sauce and toss several times. Remove wok from heat. Spoon over noodles and serve immediately.

Modified from Dinner in Minutes by Linda Gassenheimer

MOCK CRAB AND BOK CHOY

1 cup vegetable or pareve chicken broth

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 lb. linguini noodles, cooked according to the package instructions, drained

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 cups sliced bok choy

1 1/2 lb mock crab

1 cup chopped broccoli

1 cup red bell pepper, diced

1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced green onion

1 can sliced water chestnuts

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

In small bowl combine the broth, soy sauce, and cornstarch; set aside. Heat the oil in a wok and add the broccoli, and red bell pepper and cook stirring constantly for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the mock crab, bok choy, mushrooms, green onions, water chestnuts and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly for 3 or minutes or until the mock crab is hot but the vegetables are still crisp tender. Stir soy sauce mixture into the vegetable mixing to coat. Cooking, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Add the cooked noodles and toss to coat. Serves 4

Modified from about.com

CRUNCHY BOK CHOY SALAD (pareve)

Dressing:

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Salad:

1 (3-ounce) package ramen noodles

1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

3 cups thinly sliced bok choy

1 cup very thin red bell pepper strips

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/4 cup diagonally cut green onions

To prepare dressing, combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk.

To prepare the salad, crumble noodles; discard seasoning packet. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add peanuts; saute for 4 minutes or until browned. Remove from heat. Combine crumbled noodles, peanuts, bok choy, and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

Cooking Light, AUGUST 2001

QUOINA AND BOK CHOY TURKEY PASTRAMI SALAD

1 cup quoina

2 cups of chicken broth

2 portabella mushrooms, chopped

2 tablespoons oil

1/3 to 1/2 lb turkey pastrami, chopped

2 cups sliced bok choy

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Cook the quinoa in the chicken stock according to the directions on the package and cool slightly. Place it in a large bowl. In a skillet cook garlic and red onion together in the oil until the onion is soft. Add the bok choy and cook 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and turkey pastrami and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the mixture to the quinoa.  Mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main dish. Serve hot or cold.

Submitted by Claire Louise Smart Bloomington IN

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