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?

Since 1945, crop losses due to insects have nearly doubled, but insecticide use has increased tenfold.


"Let us never forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. Man may be civilized in some degree without great progress in manufactures and with little commerce with his distant neighbors. But without the cultivation of the earth, he is, in all countries, a savage. Until he gives up the chase and fixes himself in some place, and seeks a living from the earth, he is a roaming barbarian. When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization."
~Daniel Webster

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