Brassica rapa var. chinensis
by Hara Dretaki
Bok choy: crunchy and leafy, white and green, sweet and bitter. Also known as Chinese cabbage, bok choy is a nutritious vegetable, one with divergent flavors, textures, and cooking options.
First: Start by slicing off the stubby base of the bok choy from the white, thick bottoms, and then cut the leafy green portion from the white stalks.
Second: Keep the stalks and leaves separate after washing. They have different cooking times so it’s best to add them separately in the cooking process, whether it’s steaming or stir-frying.
Third: Slice each white stalk in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Stack the leafy greens and then slice them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips.
Fourth: Clean the prepped bok choy in a large bowl filled with cool water or in a salad spinner. Swirl the bok choy until all the sand has been removed. Allow the sediment to settle. Rinse again, if necessary. Bok choy can be very gritty, especially if it’s bought directly from the farm or the CSA.
Bok choy, like other leafy greens, can be steamed or stir-fried. The white stems take longer to cook than the leaves. The inner tender leaves can be eaten raw. Shredded on a grater, they’ll add crunch to any salad or slaw.
Bok choy can be kept for up to one week if stored properly in a refrigerator. Leaves will lose integrity and wilt if they are allowed to dry out. To store, wrap the bok choy in a damp towel or in a plastic bag and place it in the vegetable drawer of a refrigerator (or a secluded section for produce inside your refrigerator). Do not wash the vegetable until you are ready to cook with it—otherwise it will get slimy when refrigerated.