That slightly odd shaped vegetable, with dark green leaves and thick, white, clustered stalks, that’s been cropping up in more and more stores over the last few years, has a rich history. Known as bok choy, but also called pak choi or Chinese cabbage, it’s a cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the mustard family (as does cabbage, kale, broccoli, and turnips).
A staple of Asian and Chinese cuisine, it was first cultivated in China thousands of years ago and is now common all over the world. Resembling something like a lettuce/celery hybrid, the whole plant is edible, even those thick stalks, and was first introduced to the US in the 19th Century. Since then, it has grown in popularity, and can now be found in just about every supermarket.
Bok choy is similar in taste to cabbage, with a mild, grassy flavour, and a slight peppery kick. The stalks have a satisfying crunch, while the leaves are soft and crisp. There are two common varieties – the traditional white bok choy, and Shanghai bok choy, distinguished by its milder flavour and jade green stalks (nonetheless, it remains a good substitute).
In China, bok choy was not simply used in cooking – it was also renowned for its medicinal properties. It’s incredible healthy, and packed with nutrients and minerals; as such, it shouldn’t be overcooked. Steaming is common, as is adding it to stir-fries – as well being a colourful addition, biting into those rich stalks gives a satisfying crunch.
As a relatively heart plant, bok choy can withstand lower temperatures and even light frosts, meaning its generally available all year round. At Buffalo Market, we work hard to ensure a regular supply throughout all the seasons, so add some to your cart today and experiment with one of the most delicious, healthy, distinctive vegetables there is.