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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bok Choy

Bok Choy:


Bok Choy is one of two varieties of leafy Chinese vegetables, the other being called nappa cabbage.  These vegetables are subspecies of the turnip and belong to the same genus as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.  They are calciferous vegetables. Bok choy is often referred to as "non-heading" or non-heading Chinese cabbage.  Bok choy means "white vegetable" in Chinese and is sometimes referred to as "white cabbage".


Bok choy and other forms of Chinese cabbage have been enjoyed in China for over 1500 years.  Chinese cabbage was principally grown in the Yangtze River Delta region, but the Ming Dynasty naturalist Li Shizhen popularized it by bringing attention  to its medicinal qualities.  It has been cultivated in North America for 100 years.  In the U.S., Florida, California, Hawaii, and New Jersey are key states for commercial production of both headed and non-headed Chinese cabbage including bok choy.

My Story: 

When we first started carrying bok choy in the supermarket produce department, it did not sell at all.  I suspect that most of the people who shopped our store did not know what it was.  The produce managers did not want to order it because it would languish on the shelf until it was no longer fresh and then it would have to be discarded.  One day a district manager from the district office was visiting our store.  He acknowledged that we had the bok choy and said that he knew it didn't sell very well, but he still wanted us to keep it in stock.   He explained how his wife shopped a certain store because it had bok choy.  He said she never bought bok choy  and when he asked her about it she said that she liked the store because they had everything.


Bok choy is known for its mild flavor.  It is good for stir-fries, braising, and soups.  It can be eaten cooked or raw.    When using bok choy chop the leaf portions in 1/8 inch slices and the stems into 1/2 inch lengths for quick and even cooking.  For most health benefits let bok choy sit for 5 minutes before cooking.  Sprinkle with lemon juice just before letting it sit.  This can help enhance the beneficial phytonutrient concentration.


Recent studies have identified 70 antioxidant phenolic substances in bok choy.  Its strong beta-carotene content makes it rich in vitamin A.  In fact it has higher vitamin A content than cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.  Bok choy  is:

An excellent source of:  vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids) potassium, folate, vitamin B6, calcium, and manganese.

A very good source of: iron, vitamin B2, phosphorus, fiber, and protein.

A good source of: cholene, magnesium, niacin, vitamin B1, copper, Omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and pantothenic acid. 

Health Benefits:

The vitamins C and A along with manganese and zinc found in bok choy are conventional antioxidants.  Additionally, bok choy includes a wide range of phytonutrient antioxidants including flavonoids and numerous phenolic acids.  This diverse array of antioxidants provides  unique benefits.  Many of the antioxidants also provide anti-inflammatory benefits.  They not only lower the risk of oxygen based damage to your cells and body systems, but also lower your risk of chronic inflammation.   The vitamin K nit only has a role in blood clotting , but has been shown to regulate the body's inflammation response especially in relationship to our cardiovascular system.


Bok Choy is available throughout the year.  Its peak season is the middle of winter through the beginning of spring.

Selecting and storing:

Choose bok choy with firm green colored leaves and moist hardy stems.   The leaves should look fresh, be unwilted, and free of signs of browning, yellowing, or small holes.  
Do not wash the bok choy until ready to use.   It can stay unwashed in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.

 Eat up!...Enjoy!...I'll show you how.

Simple but good:

Garlic Bok Choy:

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 lb. bok choy stalks cut diagonally and leaves cut across 1 - 1 1/2 inch 
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar.
salt to taste
1/4 cup water or chicken broth
sesame oil to taste
black pepper to taste

Heat wok and add oil.  When oil is hot add garlic and re pepper flakes and stir fry briefly (about 30 seconds) until garlic is fragrant.  Add bok choy stalks first, then leaves.  Stir in soy sauce, sugar, and salt and stir fry on high heat for 12 minute.  
Add water or chicken broth, cover the wok and simmer for about 2 - 3 minutesuntil leaves are dark green and stalks are tender. 

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