Bok Choi

Bok Choi

Bok choi (also hakusai, bai cai, pak choi, Chinese white cabbage) is thought to be the oldest of the Asian greens. It has been cultivated in China since at least the 5th century and in Europe since the 18th century. Hong Kong farmers grow over 20 kinds of bok choi. Many more varieties can be found across the mainland and in Taiwan.

It has long been grown in the U.S. as a salad vegetable. All Chinese cabbages are delicate and crisp, qualities that enable them to combine with a wide variety of foods. Kimchi, the universal Korean pickle, is often made with Chinese cabbage.

As a member of the crucifer family, bok choi offers nutritional assets similar to those of other cabbages. It is rich in vitamins A and C and contains significant amounts of nitrogen compounds known as indoles, which appear to lower the risk of various forms of cancer. Bok choi is also a good source of folic acid. bok choi has more beta-carotene than other cabbages, and supplies considerably more calcium. It is very low in calories - only 15 calories per 1/2-cup of bok choi.

Storing and Cooking

Wrap bok choy in a damp towel, or put in a plastic bag and place in the hydrator drawer of the refrigerator. Store for up to one week. Leaves will lose integrity and wilt if allowed to dry out.

Bok choi stalks are mild and crunchy and the leaves pleasantly tangy. The stalks and leaves have quite different textures and cooking times, so in culinary terms, it's like getting two vegetables for the price of one. Be sure to give the stems a minute or two to cook before you put the leaves in so that each part cooks to perfection.

Bok Choi cooking times:

Boiling: 3 - 4 minutes for the stalks, 1 - 1 1/2 minutes for leaves

Steaming: About 6 minutes for the stalks, 2 - 3 minutes for leaves

Stir-fry: About 5 minutes for stalks, 2 minutes for leaves - the leaves should be just wilted and bright green

Bok Choi recipes:

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

Did you know?

Farmers in 2002 earned their lowest real net cash income since 1940. Meanwhile corporate agribusiness profits have nearly doubled since 1990.

Quotes

"There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third is by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry."
~Benjamin Franklin

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