Bok choy is an incredibly versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes. It has a mild flavor and slightly crunchy texture, making it a great addition to soups, salads, stir-fries, and more. What does bok choy taste like?
To answer this question, we must first explore the flavor profile of this leafy green veggie, and learn how to prepare it for maximum flavor best. Read on to find out more about what bok choy tastes like, and some delicious recipes you can make with it!
Bok choy is a Cantonese word that translates to “white vegetable.” Other names for bok choy include Chinese cabbage, pak choi, and pok choi.
Records show that people cultivated bok choy in China as early as the 5th century AD. Today, this plant is grown worldwide.
As a result, you can find bok choy in farmers’ markets and local grocery stores easily. Some people even have a ready supply of these vegetables from their gardens.
Bok choy is a common ingredient in Asian recipes, especially in Chinese cuisine. The best thing about bok choy is that the entire plant is edible. Even the flowers of this plant are edible!
However, bok choy, like any other leafy green, tastes better before it “bolts” or bears flowers.
When a bok choy bolts, it directs all the nutrients it gets to the stalks that will ultimately grow the flowers. This change means the stems and leaves, which make up the bok choy itself, will not be as good.
Looking at the bright side, though, the flowers are pretty. They are bright yellow and make aesthetic and edible ingredients for your salad.
There are two common varieties of bok choy: the traditional bok choy and the Shanghai bok choy. We’ll discuss each type below.
Bok choy looks like a cross between regular cabbage and celery. It has long stalks that connect to wide green leaves that look similar to cabbage leaves or lettuce.
Bok choy leaves are thin. For this reason, they easily wilt and lose their shape when cooked.
Like other vegetables, the appearance of bok choy varies per type. The physical characteristics of the most common bok choy varieties are as follows:
The traditional or regular bok choy has white stems or stalks. Their leaves are visibly wrinkled and ruffled.
They look like mustard greens but with a darker shade.
The Shanghai bok choy boasts green stalks, as opposed to the bright white stems of the regular ones.
Another distinction concerns the leaves. Shanghai bok choy leaves are oval, wide, and spoon-like, concave towards the center of the plant.
Baby bok choi is not a different variety. Instead, it is a traditional or a Shanghai bok choy that people harvest before it matures.
Obviously, it has smaller leaves and stalks. What’s special about them is that their stems are still bigger than their leaves. Plus, like Brussels sprouts, you can cook them whole.
So, what does bok choy taste like? Is it bitter? Or is it herby?
The flavor of bok choy is similar to cabbage, only milder. Nuances of the celery and lettuce flavors are also present in this leafy green.
Some say that bok choy is also comparable to Swiss chard when it comes to taste. That said, it has a slight bitterness and some peppery notes.
In general, bok choy is subtle and not overwhelming. If you dislike cabbage for its strong flavor, bok choy is a great option.
Do note that its leaves have a more robust flavor than its stalks, which are mostly made of water. If you’ll be eating bok choy for the first time, it is best to start with the stalks.
As with other vegetables, the taste of bok choy changes as it ages. That said, a baby bok choy’s flavor is not as strong as the mature one.
A fully-aged bok choy can develop a bitter taste comparable to mustard greens and spinach. Bok choy is milder and sweeter than these two veggies, though.
The flavor of bok choy gets mellowed by heat. For this reason, a raw bok choy has a more pronounced cabbage flavor and bitterness than cooked ones.
Bok choy is a flexible vegetable you can cook in various ways.
Here are the top methods you can use to cook these tasty leafy greens.
Making a bok choy stir fry is one way to cook this vegetable. This method keeps the texture of the bok choy intact. Plus, stir-fried bok choy has a nice, enticing color.
You can also braise bok choy for a quick side dish. It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and cook, so it’s best when you’re in a hurry.
Roasting bok choy in an oven is another easy way to enjoy this nutritious vegetable. Make some dressing while roasting, and enjoy a nice dish afterward.
Like there are many ways to cook bok choy, there are also various ways to incorporate them into your meals.
You don’t have to cook bok choy to enjoy or get their health benefits. In fact, they’re at their best texture when they’re raw.
Plus, some of their vitamin content gets depleted when you cook them. For this reason, you are better off eating them raw. Add them to your vegetable salad for a crunchy element.
Have it alongside radicchio, arugula, lettuce, and baby spinach. Drizzle with some vinaigrette and enjoy.
Incorporating bok choy into classic chicken soup is brilliant. This recipe uses simple ingredients like chicken broth and soy sauce.
The best thing? You only need to spare 15 minutes for the prep and cooking time.
You’re mistaken if you think grilled cheese cannot get any better. You can add a healthy twist to it by adding raw bok choy. This sandwich hack is a great way to make snack time more enjoyable.
You can make kimchi using bok choy instead of Napa cabbage. Use it exactly as you would the original ingredient in your recipe. The resulting kimchi will be equally delicious and nutritious.
People who dislike vegetables might still find them off-putting even when bok choy has a mild taste. Luckily, there are ways to make bok choy taste better.
The simple act of cooking bok choy improves its taste greatly. Heat mellows the bitterness and makes the vegetable more palatable.
Avoid eating raw bok choy if you want a better-tasting leafy green. Remember, though, that you trade the flavor with some health benefits when cooking bok choy.
The biggest reason bok choy does not taste good to many is that it is bitter. The good news is that there is an easy fix to counter any bitter flavor – use sweeteners!
A dash of sugar, honey, and even maple syrup can make bok choy taste better. Agave syrup is also among your top options.
The leaves and the outer stems of bok choy have the most bitter flavors. To get a better-tasting dish, leave these parts out for your next recipes. Don’t throw them out; you can still use them to make kimchi.
Shrimp and bok choy taste very good together. Their flavors complement each other well, so eating bok choy with shrimp makes it taste better.
Add shrimp to your bok choy soup or stir fry and enjoy a nice combo.
Like its cruciferous cousins, bok choy is also full of vitamins and nutrients.
It contains vitamins A, B, C, K, and E. Aside from that; bok choy has calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Potassium, selenium, and manganese are also present in this green vegetable.
Bok choy is an excellent source of folate and beta-carotene.
Because of these vitamins and minerals, bok choy has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The entire plant is edible, so you can eat the stems, leaves, and flowers. The flowers are best eaten raw in salads. You can eat the stems and leaves in raw and cooked forms.
The stems and leaves of bok choy look similar to celery and green cabbage, respectively. However, when it comes to taste, bok choy is much more like cabbage and mustard greens.
Bok choy may have more vitamins A and C than spinach. But spinach has more vitamin K than bok choy. Both spinach and bok choy are healthy vegetables, so it is difficult to tell which of them is better.
Now, the conclusion! Bok choy is a cruciferous leafy green from China. It is now cultivated in other parts of the world and among the most popular vegetables in the produce aisle. It’s versatile ingredient to have in the kitchen because of the flavor.
So, what does bok choy taste like? For the most part, it tastes like cabbage. That said, it has bitter and peppery notes. Don’t worry; bok choy’s flavor is mild and gets even milder when you cook it. If you still don’t like how cooked bok choy tastes, there are many ways to make it taste better, so don’t give up. You don’t want to miss the vitamins and nutrients you’ll get from eating bok choy.