Bok choy is one of the tastiest flavors brought to us by Asian food, but how to prepare it? If you’ve asked yourself how to cut bok choy, you are not alone!
This originally Chinese cabbage is a nutritional powerhouse and can be used in countless recipes. If you have not tried it, you are seriously missing out and should change that immediately! Trust me, your taste buds will agree.
Sometimes, though, this delicious vegetable can be mystifying: what parts of it can you eat? How do you cut it to retain its flavor and nutrients? How do you use it?
I have experimented with different ways to prepare bok choy because I enjoy trying my hand at Asian recipes (and dream of a big road trip through temples and modern cities). Here are my finds!
Bok choy: why you should eat it
Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage that, instead of looking like a rounded head, appears more or less like a plumper celery plant. Its dark green leaves and whitish stalk are all edible.
As a whole, this vegetable contains extremely low fat, carbohydrates, and protein. However, it has been rated a tall second in nutrient density among 41 nutrient-rich vegetables. It contains high volumes of Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as B6 and other nutrients such as folate.
Bok choy has been known to help prevent illnesses such as cancer. Don’t overdo it, though! If you eat too much of this plant, its high concentration of glucosinolates can be toxic and make you extremely ill.
How to store bok choy before use
Cutting bok choy is not the first step! You have some lovely bok choy plants that you just bought at the store, but you are not planning on using them right this moment. What to do?
In order to store bok choy to keep it nutritious and tasty, you should follow some very specific steps:
- When you get your bok choy at the store, make sure there are no dark spots on its surface. If there are, discard that plant: it is wilted.
- Don’t wash it before you store it! This will make the leaves store more water than they naturally would and result in wilted, bland bok choy.
- Choose resealable plastic bags that can be sealed in a vacuum.
- Place the bok choy inside (no more than three per medium-sized bag).
- Without crushing the tender plant, push all the air out of the bag and seal it.
- Put the bags with the bok choy in the lower part of your fridge, in the crisper drawer.
- Take it out of the fridge and wash it only immediately before using. Doing this will prevent wilting.
- You can dry the leaves in a colander or, if there are not many, pat them dry with a paper towel, being careful not to crush them.
- Do not keep the bok choy in the fridge for longer than 4 days.
- You can also store bok choy in the freezer indefinitely by using the same method. However, it will not taste as good when you take it out.
Bought, stored, and washed. Now, how to use bok choy?
How do you cut bok choy
Do not use the base of the bok choy plant. With a sharp knife of Brisket knife(and care!) slice clean through the stalk about two inches from its lowest part. Discard the two-inch section.
The easiest answer to how to prepare bok choy is: do not cut it. There are many recipes for Asian food (think Thai, Korean, or Cambodian cuisine) that call for whole bok choy leaves.
If you want to do this, in order to preserve the stalk (very rich in nutrients), separate the leaves gently by cutting through the stalk where the leaf joins it.
Another way to cut baby bok choy— or the fully grown version— is to halve the leaves:
- After you have cut the base of the plant, slice through the place where the bok choy leaf joins the other. We will keep as much of the stalk as possible.
- Place the leaf stretched out on a cutting board (wooden is preferable, though plastic and metal are also okay).
- Place your knife along the middle line of the leaf.
- Start to cut at the base of the stalk and continue all through its length, ending by cutting the leaf.
- You can pile the leaves up in a separate deep plate or bowl so they are ready to use.
For preparing bok choy into smaller pieces, repeat until step 4, and then:
- Place the halves of the leaf on top of each other, being careful to align them properly.
- Cut lengthwise as before (in step 4), only this time you will be cutting through two pieces at the same time.
- Easy as that! You can repeat this process up to one more time. Afterward, the pieces would become too narrow for you to be able to cut through lengthwise.
If you still want to know how to trim bok choy into smaller portions, follow these steps:
- Place all cut leaf sections in a bunch, all facing the same way. You can even tie them up loosely with a bit of string to hold them together while you work.
- Careful not to cut the string, start at the base of the stalks and work upward.
- Place the knife at an approximate 45-degree angle from the bottom of the stalks and slice through the bunch of leaves.
- Then turn the knife at a 45-degree angle in the opposite direction and cut again.
- Repeat the action until you have gone through the whole bunch lengthwise.
- Separate all the bok choy leaf portions, as they tend to stick together.
- All done!
You can make the sections as small as you like. If you want to know why we cut the leaves at a 45-degree angle: it is so that the wavy texture of the surface is less. This way, it is easier for it to get cooked, as it will all be in contact with the heat.
Types of vegetable cuts
How to chop bok choy in different ways? If you want to get exotic, there are other types of cuts you can use. Bonus: once you have learned to perform them, you can also use them for other vegetables.
Why do you want versatility in cutting methods? It is good for adapting the same ingredient to the needs of different recipes and types of cooking. It will also give your meals more visual appeal!
- Julienne: this cut is better suited to chunky vegetables than leaves, but you can still use it to produce long sections that look a bit like matchsticks.
- Stack the leaves on top of each other and slice across repeatedly, until the whole leaf is in strips.
- Be careful to hold the leaf strips together with the hand that is not using the knife.
- Take the strips and repeat the process until you are left with long, thin pieces.
- Chiffonade: perfect for cutting leafy vegetables, the chiffonade—or shredding— method will make your cooking life easier.
- Again, start by stacking the leaves together. Ideally, the height of the stack should be between half an inch and an inch. If you have more leaves to cut, you can repeat the process as needed.
- Roll them up! Start with the leafy side— as it is more flexible— and continue rolling tight until you reach the stalks.
- You can tie the cigar-looking roll with a piece of string to free your hands a little.
- Slice across your roll, producing thin slices. You can vary the frequency of the cuts to produce varying sizes!
- If the resulting pieces are too big for you, you can stack them and cut them into square sections.
- Mincing: as its name indicates, this technique will produce tiny sections of leaves that will cook in no time.
- Use the chiffonade method to get thin slices of bok choy. You do not need to make them very thin, as the most reductive part will come later.
- Stack the strip and, if you prefer it, hold them together with a thin piece of string.
- Use a large knife— one of those big rectangular ones, if you have it in your inventory of kitchen tools.
- Place the knife on one end of the bok choy bunch.
- Place one of your hands on the knife’s handle and the other one on the top blunt side.
- Using the pointy tip as a pivot, move the knife’s blade up and down with the help of your top hand and slowly turn it to go through the whole bunch.
- Continue until everything is small and evenly cut!
These cutting techniques are a fool-proof way to add a little fun to otherwise monotonous ingredients.
Give some love to your belly!
Thanks to its amazing nutritional value, bok choy is great for you. You can include it in wildly diverse recipes such as stir-fries, stews, or warm salads. You can even use it to make sauce for pasta or rice noodles.
It tastes like a piece of Asia and has amazing effects on your weight and health— what more could you ask for? Now that you know how to cut bok choy, go ahead and give your belly some love.