Chinese food and leafy greens are truly a match made in heaven, with a perfect balance of flavors and textures. If you know how well this combination works together, you must have heard of bok choy. But, if you have never tasted bok choy before and are wondering what it tastes like, you should read this article.
The flavor of bok choy is quite similar to that of a regular old cabbage. It tastes milked, fresh and grassy with a very slight peppery kick to it. Just like a lot of other leafy greens, the leafy green part of bok choy is slightly bitter and has a mineral-like flavor.
The white stalks have a crunch similar to a celery stalk and are very mild tasting as compared to the leaves. Bok choy is most traditionally used in Chinese cuisine, as it’s a Chinese variety of cabbage. However, it is also quite popular in other Asian countries.
Bok choy has also become a popular ingredient in the western world and is now used for many recipes that are not traditionally Chinese or Asian in nature. It is a truly versatile ingredient that people also use to add to sandwiches and salads.
The mild flavor of bok choy, along with the crunchy texture, makes it great for various cooking methods like stir-frying and braising, being the most common. However, despite the popularity of bok choy, there are a lot of people who have never tried it.
I believe that it’s best to know the flavor you can expect out of an ingredient before adding it to any recipe. This leaves out the element of surprise and ensures you have a better eating experience. With this article, we will learn exactly that! Happy reading to you!
What Is Bok Choy?
Bok choy is a popular ingredient in many parts of the world. However, people do lack information about the same. Firstly, it is known by various other names, which itself makes it confusing for many.
However, I do personally believe that it is always better to know what an ingredient exactly is before you eat it. Knowing about the ingredient will give you a better idea of what it is and make you better prepared for what you can expect out of it.
Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage also known by the name Pak choi or Pok Choi. It belongs to the same family as cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and broccoli. Bok choy is most closely related to certain other leafy vegetables, like broccoli raab and turnips.
Although mostly popular in China and certain other Asian countries, bok choy is now grown in Northern Europe too. Moreover, bok choy has been an important ingredient in Chinese cuisine for the longest time. Archeologists have discovered 6000-year-old seeds of Bok Choy in China!
With bok choy, the entire plant is edible. It consists of leafy stalks which come out from a bulbous stem and looks slightly similar to celery. The leaves of bok choy are dark green and maybe ruffled or flat.
The stem of the bok choy is either white or light green in color, depending on the variety of bok choy. Bok choy is also quite often harvested when it is immature.
These are sold under the name ‘Baby Bok Choy’. Both types of bok choy have been used either whole in recipes or broken apart, with stir-frying, braising, and roasting being the most common methods of preparation used.
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What Does Bok Choy Taste Like?
With increase in import and export of ingredients, bok choy has become a staple for many people, even those who are not necessarily Asian. Many of you may wonder why people bother using bok choy when they can just use regular cabbage.
Although most green leafy vegetables that belong to the same family do have a similar taste, it is not really exactly the same. So, you can expect some minor differences in the flavor of bok choy as compared to other leafy greens from the same family.
The flavor of bok choy is actually very mild, quite similar to that of regular cabbage. Just like various other leafy greens, the flavor of the stalk is different from the flavor of the leaves. The stalks of bok choy are extremely mild and have a crunchy texture.
They are actually more often used for the crunch that they provide rather than the flavor itself. The flavor of the green leaves is more pungent compared to the stalks and is slightly bitter and mineral-like. These are the basic flavors you can expect out of any type of bok choy.
However, there can be certain variations, depending on when it is harvested. Baby bok choy or young bok choy tends to have a much milder flavor. As they taste really mild, the leaves of younger bok choy can be found sold with other green leaves.
As it matures, the flavor gets more pronounced and bitter. People often compare the flavor of a matured bok choy with the flavor of mustard greens, as you get a similar kick of spice from the leaves.
The bitter mustard-like flavor of the leaves may sound like a turn-off to many. However, this flavor actually compliments certain other flavors really well. It also makes it great for sauteing and even adding to salads. Moreover, as younger bok choy have a milder flavor, they easily absorb other flavors present in the dish.
Does Bok Choy Taste Like Onions?
I think when we talk about tasting various vegetables or tubers, there is one common ingredient that most of us may have tasted at least once. I’m talking about the mighty onion, of course! What are onions not added to is the real question here.
From sauces to gravies and everything in between, onions are added for the added flavor. So, it can be safely established that most of us do have a clear picture of a flavor when we talk about onions. But does bok choy actually taste the same?
The flavor of onions is sweet and sour, along with an umami element. Moreover, they are also from a completely different family as compared to bok choy. The flavors of bok choy, on the other hand, are mild, with a peppery and bitter kick to them.
This depends on what part of the bok choy you are eating. So, as you can see, there aren’t really any similarities in the flavors of the two. So, you can say that bok choy and onions do not taste alike.
Does Bok Choy Taste Like Celery?
Celery is another common ingredient which is used especially in soups, stocks, and sauces, for added flavor. Although there is sometimes a misconception around this, bok choy and celery are not really from the same family.
However, the two do look a little alike. Bok choy, just like celery, has a long stem and leaves emerging on top. So, are there any similarities in their flavors too? Let us have a look.
Bok choy and celery do have a similar appearance. Their flavors, however, are quite different. Celery has an earthy flavor attached to it, which is overall extremely mild. The stalks of celery are really crunchy.
Similarly, the stalks of bok choy are also very crunchy and taste mild. However, the leaves of bok choy are slightly bitter and peppery. This is not really a characteristic found in celery. So, their flavors are quite different, even though their textures are similar.
What Does Baby Bok Choy Taste Like?
Baby bok choy is basically bok choy that has been harvested at an earlier stage. They are much smaller compared to regular bok choy, being only 3-6 inches long.
It can also be cut in a similar way as a larger bok choy and can be used either whole or with each individual part separated. Let me tell you a little more in detail about the flavor of baby bok choy.
Baby bok choy, overall, has a much milder flavor than a matured bok choy. The flavor of baby bok choy leaves is actually sweeter compared to a full-grown bok choy. The leaves are also small and tender.
You might not get the characteristic bitter and pepper-like flavor that you get out of a regular bok choy. For this reason, most people prefer adding baby bok choy leaves to salads rather than cooking with them.
Does Bok Choy Taste Like Spinach?
Spinach is one of the most common and widely famous leafy greens in the world. It’s versatile and pairs well with a range of ingredients. I think the first leafy green that most people are introduced to is spinach. So, people may want to associate the flavor of bok choy with the flavor of spinach.
Usually, comparing the flavors of two different ingredients does make it easier to figure out their flavors. Let us see how the flavor of bok choy compares with the flavor of spinach.
The flavor of raw spinach is usually mild and slightly sweet. This flavor gets a little stronger and more robust when the spinach is cooked. While comparing, bok choy does have some flavor notes that are quite similar to that of spinach.
Just the leaves of bok choy have a slightly more bitter and peppery flavor than the leaves of spinach. So, bok choy does have flavors that are similar to spinach, but the two don’t taste exactly the same.
Does Bok Choy Taste Bitter?
Let’s be honest here; most of us don’t like a bitter flavor. We all try to avoid it as much as we can. Although, there are certain ingredients, especially leafy greens, that do have a slightly bitter flavor to them.
This flavor is actually very well balanced and does not really seem as sharp as certain other bitter ingredients. Is it the same for bok choy?The stalks or stems of bok choy have a very mild flavor and juicy crunch to them.
However, the leaves have a sharper flavor and do taste slightly bitter. But, the bitterness is very mild and is almost peppery in flavor.
The bitterness you would get out of bok choy is very similar to that of leafy greens like mustard greens. Baby bok choy is much milder and does not necessarily carry this flavor.
What Does Bok Choy Taste Like When It Is Cooked?
Bok choy is eaten in both raw and cooked forms. As I had mentioned earlier, the most common ways to cook bok choy are stir-frying, sauteing, braising, and even grilling.
Bok choy also tastes really great with an array of ingredients, whether meat-based or vegetarian, and also quite a lot of sauces. Cooking does affect the taste of bok choy a little bit. Let us explore how exactly the flavor of bok choy is affected by cooking.
Bok Choy, once cooked, turns a little more robust in flavor, just like various other leafy greens. But, the good news is that along with picking up a sharper flavor, bok choy also soaks the flavors of other ingredients in the recipe.
So, when you bite into, let’s say a stir-fried piece of bok choy, you will get a subtle peppery flavor of the leaf itself, along with the added flavorings. The stem, as it is very mild, soaks other flavors more easily.
What Does Roasted Bok Choy Taste Like?
Roasted bok choy is a very common side dish, often served alongside other Asian-inspired dishes. Similar to stir-frying, roasting is a great way to cook bok choy to enhance the flavor. A very similar phenomenon follows when you roast bok choy, as does with other methods of cooking.
Roasted bok choy takes up the flavors of the added ingredients. Most people roast bok choy with ingredients and flavors like miso paste, sesame oil and seeds, honey, ginger, and garlic.
Moreover, the roasting also adds char to the bok choy, giving it a crispy caramelized flavor and texture. So, along with having a char and having the flavors of other ingredients, roasted bok choy maintains some of its peppery and bitter flavors.
What Does Bad Bok Choy Taste Like?
With leafy greens, it is quite important to know how they would look once they go bad. This is necessary as leafy greens do not taste good once they are spoiled.
There are some signs through which you can easily identify if your bok choy is still good or not. The easiest way to tell is by looking at the appearance, as it will become soft and start to discolor.
In case those signs cannot be identified, you still should know what bok choy tastes like once it is spoiled. This way, in case the appearance looks alright, you can still taste the bok choy and check.
Bad bok choy tends to taste really bitter. Even fresh bok choy does taste bitter, sure. But, with the bad bok choy, the bitter taste is very pungent and makes it unpalatable.
Does Bok Choy Taste Like Licorice?
Licorice is a type of herb with a strong flavor. There are quite a few herbs that are actually associated with this flavor. The most common ones of these are basil, tarragon, caraway, and fennel.
Bok choy leaves do have a peppery and sharp, bitter flavor. However, the flavor is not actually like licorice at all. So no, bok choy does not taste as licorice does.
What Does Raw Bok Choy Taste Like?
Adding raw bok choy to salads is a great way to get a change from the regular salad greens. In fact, people do quite commonly use bok choy in salad recipes in place of regular old lettuce.
Baby bok choy is generally more preferred when it comes to using it raw, but regular bok choy also makes the cut for many. The reason behind this is purely the flavor of bok choy.
The flavor of raw bok choy is sharper than cooked bok choy. Raw bok choy leaves have a peppery and slightly bitter taste, whereas the stalk of bok choy has a much milder flavor. Baby bok choy is much milder in flavor than a regular bok choy.
Does Bok Choy Taste Like Soap?
There have been certain instances where people have said their bok choy tastes like soap. This may sound like a strange allegation, but the chances of bok choy tasting like soap are actually very minimal.
Soap has a very strong metallic and bitter taste. Bok choy also has a bitter taste, but the bitterness in bok choy is balanced by a peppery flavor. The bitterness of bok choy is palatable, unlike soap. So, bok choy does not really taste like soap, and if it does, it has probably gone bad.
Does Bok Choy Taste Like Horseradish?
Horseradish is known to be extremely spicy. Just a little spoon of horseradish is enough to bring tears to most people’s eyes. Bok choy also does have a peppery and spicy flavor.
Its peppery and spicy taste has a balanced bitterness to it. When you bite into raw or cooked bok choy, you will get a hint of a slightly spicy flavor.
However, this is not even close to how extreme horseradish is on the spice radar. So, it can very safely be said that bok choy actually does not taste like horseradish.
Can You Eat All Parts Of Bok Choy?
With a lot of varieties of vegetables, it often happens that not all parts of it are edible. So, as bok choy has different parts to it, it may confuse some as to whether all parts are edible or not. The answer is yes!
Bok choy generally has two parts to it, the stem and the leaves. Both these parts are edible with different flavors. Both parts can be eaten in both raw and cooked forms.
Moreover, bok choy does not grow underground. It does have little roots attached to it, which are removed when the bok choy is harvested. This makes all bok choy perfectly edible.
How To Tell If Bok Choy Is Fresh And Good?
Vegetables, be it in any form, are always enjoyed when they are at the peak of their freshness.Well! It is not just the flavor and texture that get compromised, but also the nutritional content of the vegetable.
So, bok choy, being a leafy green, will definitely lose all its characteristics if not consumed when fresh. It may seem a little confusing and intimidating at first, but there are some easy ways through which you can check if your bok choy is fresh or not.
The first and one of the most efficient ways to determine the freshness of bok choy is by checking its color. The stem of the bok choy should be whitish in color, and the leaves should be dark green.
Of course, this can vary based on the type of bok choy. But basically, there should not be any sort of discoloration. If you see yellow-colored spots on the bok choy, it is not fresh and has probably started to rot.
Telling by the texture is also a good way to check the freshness of bok choy, as leafy greens do tend to wilt as soon as they get stale. The leaves of bok choy should be firm and tender, and the stalks or stems should be firm and crisp. In case the leaves are wilted, and the stalks are rubbery, the bok choy has started to rot.
In case your bok choy passes the color and texture test but still seems odd, you can always taste it to check the freshness. Luckily, leafy greens, even when they have started to lose their freshness, are not really lethal and don’t cause stomach issues.
So, you can taste a bit of the leaves to check the flavor. In case the leaves taste overtly bitter, the bok choy is not fresh.
How To Store Bok Choy To Keep It Fresh?
With bok choy, just like most leafy green vegetables, it is quite important to store it properly. Untimely or improper storage of bok choy is generally what causes them to start wilting and rotting.
So, there are certain things that are worth keeping in mind to store bok choy properly. Let us take a look at some steps that you can follow to ensure the proper preservation of bok choy.
1. Wash The Bok Choy
The first step once you buy bok choy before you store it is to wash it thoroughly. Just like most leafy greens, bok choy is laden with dirt all inside crevices. So, it is important to clean it properly. The best way to do this is to separate the stalks from each other, first by cutting a part of the base off.
Once you cut some of the base off, it will be much easier to get into the crevices and wash off all the dirt. With baby bok choy, you can wash it directly without chopping off the base, as cleaning the niches will be much easier.
Once you wash the bok choy, place it in a colander and let all the water drain out. Once the water is drained, dab the bok choy with some paper towels to remove any remaining water. It is quite important to do so as bok choy leaves that have water on them are more prone to rotting.
2. Store It In The Refrigerator
The best and probably optimal way to store bok choy is by storing it in the refrigerator. There are a few ways through which you can easily store bok choy in the refrigerator.
The first way to do it is to store it in zipper bags. Once you wipe the water off the bok choy, you can store the dry bok choy in the coldest part of the refrigerator.
This way, bok choy will stay fresh for about 3-4 days. Another way to store bok choy in the refrigerator is by wrapping it in paper towels. Once in the paper towels, you can place the bok choy in a zipper bag and store it in the vegetable compartment. This will keep the bok choy fresh for a little longer, approximately 4-5 days.
3. Store It In The Freezer
In case you want to store bok choy for a longer period of time, you can also store it in the freezer. Storing it in the freezer will keep the bok choy fresh for a few months at a stretch.
You will basically have to follow the same method as you do for refrigeration. Wash the bok choy, dry it and then store it in zipper bags in the coldest part of the freezer.
Uses Of Bok Choy In Cooking
Bok choy, although Asian in origin, is now a favorite amongst many in the western world too. Bok choy has been replacing various other leafy greens in many world-class western recipes.
So, now bok choy has a variety of uses that go way beyond stir-frying, sauteing, and even braising. Bok choy is very commonly used for recipes of soups, especially those that are Asian-inspired, to get a balance of flavors.
Other than that, many people also prefer using bok choy instead of regular lettuce in their salads and also as an addition to sandwiches. Bok choy can be used to make a delicious side dish to go along with your meat.
Moreover, you can also use bok choy for vegetable party trays to serve along with a variety of other vegetables and dips. Lastly, you can make a quick stir-fry with bok choy, leftover meat, and some rice!
Some Famous Bok Choy Recipes
Due to its Chinese origin, most of the famous recipes made with bok choy are generally Asian. But now, with the increasing popularity of this vegetable, there are also some other recipes that are curated by world-class chefs, which are not necessarily Asian.
All of you already know where bok choy can be used. So, let me present to you some of the most famous recipes where bok choy is one of the most important ingredients.
- Garlic And Chili Bok Choy – This method is probably the most common and also one of the easiest ways to prepare bok choy. All you need is some common ingredients present in your kitchen, like garlic, chili paste or flakes, and soy sauce. Stir fry the bok choy with all these ingredients, and it is ready to be devoured!
- Shrimp And Bok Choy – Bok choy typically works wonderfully with the flavors of shrimp. You can also add mushrooms to this dish as the flavors of mushrooms, and bok choy also tend to work well together. Again, all you need to do is stir fry the bok choy with these ingredients, along with some garlic and soy sauce, and the dish is ready to serve.
- Roasted Bok Choy – Roasted bok choy can be eaten as it is, and it also makes a wonderful side dish. The flavor becomes rich and almost nutty when bok choy is roasted. Just drizzle the bok choy with some vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil and roast it in the oven.
- Chicken And Bok Choy Soup – Bok choy makes a great addition to soups, both flavor-wise and nutrient-wise. It also works great with the subtle flavor of the chicken. You can use a chicken broth or stock as the base and blanch the bok choy in it for the best flavor.
- Vietnamese Pho – Pho is a heartwarming Vietnamese dish on a cold night. All about broth, vegetables, noodles, and herbs, pho is a well-balanced dish with a lot of flavors from different spices. You can add bok choy to pho to get an added peppery and spicy flavor.
Health Benefits Of Bok Choy
Bok choy, along with being delicious, is also great for overall health. Just like most leafy green vegetables, bok choy is rich in vital nutrients and is great for the overall health of the body.
So, in case you are still not convinced enough to try bok choy for yourself, I am sure that the health benefits associated with eating bok choy will convince you enough! The health benefits of eating bok choy are all given below.
1. Helps Prevent Cancer
Bok choy is full of nutrients that help fight cancer. Some of these include vitamin C and E, folate, and selenium. The first three protect against cell damage, whereas selenium can help slow down the growth of tumors. Bok choy is also a good source of fiber, which can help reduce the chances of colon cancer.
2. Reduces Risk Of Heart Disease
Certain compounds present in bok choy can help reduce the chances of developing heart disease. The folate and vitamin B6 present in bok choy tends to help with this. Moreover, a lot of studies have shown that diets containing leafy greens do have a lower risk of developing heart disease.
3. Helps Reduce Inflammation
Bok choy is a source of certain compounds which can help reduce the chances of developing inflammation. Moreover, these compounds can help reduce the risk of developing certain chronic diseases by lowering inflammation.
4. Helps Keep The Bones Healthy
Bok choy is rich in nutrients like calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin K. All these compounds are essential for overall bone health.
5. Helps Keep Eyes Healthy
Bok choy is a decent source of vitamin A. Eating bok choy from a young age can help improve eyesight as a single serving of bok choy contains half of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A.
6. Helps Keep The Skin Healthy
Bok choy is also a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for skin health as it can reduce the effects of sun damage and pollution.
7. Boosts Immune System
Lastly, all the essential nutrients present in bok choy help improve the immune system. This all in all keeps us healthy and fit.
Nutritional Content In Bok Choy
By now, you all know that bok choy is great for overall health and is rich in an array of vital nutrients. But, many health fanatics do like knowing the exact values of nutrients present in any ingredient just to plan daily meals.
So, given below are the exact nutritional values of each nutrient present in bok choy. This will better help you decide how much bok choy you can and would actually like to add to your daily diet.
|Nutrient||Amount (Serving Size 1 cup or 70 grams of raw bok choy)|
|Calcium||6% of DV|
|Iron||3% of DV|
|Magnesium||3% of DV|
|Phosphorus||2% of DV|
|Potassium||4% of DV|
|Zinc||1% of DV|
|Manganese||5% of DV|
|Selenium||1% of DV|
|Folate||12% of DV|
|Vitamin A||17% of DV|
|Vitamin C||35% of DV|
|Vitamin K||27% of DV|
(Note- Here, DV denotes Daily Value, and the percentage denotes the amount a nutrient can be a part of your daily diet, out of the recommended intake of that particular nutrient.)
Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage belonging to the same family as regular cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. The light-colored stalk and dark green leaves of bok choy are all edible. The flavor of the stalk is extremely mild, with a crunchy and juicy texture.
The leaves are slightly bitter with a peppery and spicy flavor. In case the leaves are wilted and taste bitter, and the stalks get a rubbery texture, the bok choy is probably spoiled. It is essential to store bok choy when completely dry, as contact with water makes it rot faster.
Bok choy, though a Chinese ingredient, is very often used in many other countries which are not necessarily Asian. Along with a boost of flavor, bok choy is also rich in vital nutrients.
There are also a lot of health benefits that you get out of eating bok choy. Moreover, it is very easy to cook with and so can easily be a part of your daily diet without any added fuss.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is bok choy?
Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage belonging to the same family as regular cabbage.
What does bok choy taste like?
The flavor of bok choy is really mild overall. The stalks have a mild flavor with a crunchy and juicy texture, while the leaves have a slightly bitter and peppery flavor.
Can you eat all parts of a bok choy?
Yes, both the stalks and the leaves of bok choy are edible.
What is baby bok choy?
Baby bok choy is basically bok choy that was harvested before the plant was fully grown.
What does baby bok choy taste like?
Baby bok choy tastes similar to a full-grown bok choy, just that the flavor is much milder.
Can bok choy be used only in Asian recipes?
No, bok choy can be and is used in many recipes which are not necessarily Asian in origin, such as salads and sandwiches.
Why can’t you store wet bok choy?
It is best to store bok choy once completely dry, as the more it stays in contact with water, the more the chances of bok choy rotting.
Is bok choy healthy?
Yes, bok choy is extremely healthy as it is rich in vital nutrients and has a lot of health benefits.
Can bok choy help with weight loss?
Yes, bok choy is really low in calories and fat and so adding bok choy to your diet can help aid weight loss.
What is the best way to eat bok choy?
Bok choy can be eaten in both raw and cooked forms. The best way to cook bok choy is to either roast it, grill it or saute it.
How do you reduce the bitterness of bok choy?
You can blanch the bok choy before cooking it to reduce the bitterness.
How long does it take to cook bok choy?
Bok choy cooks really quickly, at an average of 5-7 minutes.