How To Cut Bok Choy – The Practical Tips For Cutting
Bok choy is a cruciferous vegetable commonly found in the produce section of any well-stocked grocery store. This dark leafy green is also known as Chinese cabbage and is crucial in a wide variety of Asian inspired dishes. This vegetable is mild in flavor and easy to prepare, but before you can use it, you need to know how to cut bok choy.
Why Eat Bok Choy
As mentioned above, bok choy is an Asian green found in a wide variety of Asian dishes. As such, this green has been overlooked by many westerners for far too long. Mild and peppery in flavor, tender yet crisp in texture, and packed with nutrients, this leafy green makes a great addition to many meals.
This vegetable can be an excellent way to add variety to meals that need some sprucing up. It is commonly stir-fried, braised, or simmered in soups. The leaves can also be eaten raw in salads or used as a garnish. As you can see, this green is incredibly versatile and can fit into a wide variety of dishes.
How to Choose Bok Choy
If you’ve never purchased bok choy in the past, you may be wondering how to choose a good bunch. As with any vegetable, it’s best to buy bok choy at the peak of its freshness. To ensure that you’re picking the best bunch look for leaves that are bright in color and avoid stems that look rubbery.
Bok choy typically comes in two varieties. More massive bunches of this cruciferous vegetable are typically the fully grown variety while small clusters are "baby” bok choy. Virtually any type of bok choy can be harvested early in the growing season as baby bok choy. But, some varieties of this leafy green are naturally smaller than others.
Baby bok choy is incredibly tender and can be eaten in its entirety. It often requires very little regarding cutting or prep work to achieve desired results. On the other hand, fully developed bok choy needs a bit more work on the front end. Both varieties are nutrient dense and delicious.
How to Cut and Prep Bok Choy
As mentioned above, “baby” bok choy requires very little preparation. You can wash these small bunches of Chinese cabbage and use them straight away. Because of its layered nature, it is best to open up the leaves during the washing process to remove excess dirt or debris.
Fully grown and tall varieties of bok choy require a little extra finesse. This unique vegetable in made up of both thick, crunchy stems and tender, leafy green tops. This difference in structure means that the top of the bok choy plant will require far less time to cook than the harder bottom.
Wash Your Bok Choy
Before cutting any vegetable or fruit, you should first make sure that it is thoroughly clean. With bok choy, it is easiest to clean if you separate the leaves from the bunch. However, to separate the leaves from one another, you should first use a sharp knife to cut off the root of the plant.
After you have removed the thick root base of the bok choy, you should be able to remove the leaves from one another. Wash each leaf with fresh running water being sure to scrub away any dirt. At this time you can discard any leaves that look severely damaged or wilted.
When all of the leaves are clean, gently shake off any excess water and move the leaves to your cutting board. It’s best to use a cutting board that is adequately sized to hold the bok choy leaves. Additionally, it is a good idea to keep separate cutting boards for use with vegetables and raw meats.
Cutting Bok Choy
The next step in learning how to cut bok choy is to ensure that you have the proper tools. Because bok choy leaves are relatively broad, you should use a large kitchen knife such as a chef’s knife. Also, make sure that your blade is sharp so that it will quickly slice through the bok choy leaves instead of just crushing them.
To begin, stack your bok choy leaves and carefully use your knife to separate the leafy tops from the white bottoms. Set the leaves to the side and nicely stack the stems. If the stems move around a lot when you’re trying to cut them, try stacking fewer together while cutting. Additionally, you can cut one stem at a time for safety’s sake.
Carefully slice the stems horizontally. Your pieces should be uniform in size and range from ½-inch to 2-inches in length. Your preference is the main consideration when choosing how long to cut the bok choy stems.
After you have finished cutting the bok choy stems, move onto the leaves. Again you will begin by stacking the pieces. Depending on your preference and the size of your bok choy leaves, you may wish to cut these pieces in half vertically.
To finish cutting the leaves, simply slice them horizontally in your desired length. For raw applications, you should cut your leaves reasonably small. But, if you plan on cooking your bok choy leaves, more substantial pieces will hold up sufficiently. Either way, keep in mind that these tender leaves should be consumed as soon as possible after cutting to prevent excess wilting.
If you wish to, it is possible to keep the stems connected to the leaves. However, this preparation requires a different technique than the one outlined above. Keep in mind that the following method works best with shorter varieties of bok choy.
Begin as above by slicing off the the thick root base of the vegetable. This piece can be discarded or composted. Gently pull the leaves apart and wash them thoroughly.
Remember, dirt tends to accumulate towards the base of this plant, take care to remove all of it.
Instead of separating the leaves from the stems with your knife, begin by stacking the pieces together in groups of two to three leaves. Carefully draw your blade vertically through the stack. You should start at the stems and work toward the leaves. If the stalks of your bok choy are unusually thick, you can repeat this process to create quarters instead of halves.
Practical Tips for Cutting and Using Bok Choy
Know that we’ve covered the basics of how to cut bok choy, we’ll share a few useful tips to help ensure your success.
Choose Bok Choy Based on Your Needs
To start off, always choose your bok choy based on your needs. Generally speaking, smaller varieties of bok choy have a milder flavor and more delicate structure. These varieties are useful for raw applications or light cooking. Additionally, these milder varieties are an excellent place to start eating dark leafy greens.
While larger varieties of bok choy have a slightly stronger flavor. However, these varieties are still mild in taste and pair nicely with a wide range of foods. These more significant species are also a bit harder than their smaller counterparts and can be used in any recipe.
Balance the Flavors
Because bok choy is a naturally sweet green, it is wise to serve it alongside savory dishes. Pairing this delicate green with heavier or more savory foods will afford your palate a wide variety of experiences. This variety lends itself to a more enjoyable dining experience.
Remember, although this green is typically used in Asian dishes it can easily be used in any cuisine. Its mild flavor lends itself well to replacing other mild greens or cabbages.
Use a Sharp Knife
It’s always a good practice to use a sharp knife. Sharp knives prevent injuries by easily sliding through a wide variety of textures instead of slipping and sliding. Because bok choy has two radically different textures within the same vegetable, using a sharp knife is crucial.
Additionally, it is essential to use an adequately sized knife. Even “baby” varieties of bok choy are significant enough to warrant the use of a chef’s knife. Using a large knife will ensure that your cuts go all the way through the leaves and stems.
Storing Bok Choy
Before you cut it, bok choy can be easily stored in the fridge for up to five days. Wrap the vegetable loosely in a produce bag and place it in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Remember, storing vegetables is convenient, but their nutrients decrease over time. To get the most from your greens, eat them as soon as possible.
After you’ve cut your bok choy, it can still be stored for three to four days. However, the amount of time it will keep depends on how fresh the bok choy is when you cut it. To store chopped bok choy cut a few air vents into a zipper storage bag. Place the bok choy in the zippered bag and seal the zipper.
Learning how to cut bok choy is a relatively simple way to expand your cutting skills. Adding this nutritious green to a few meals will increase the nutrients you consume and can add variety to your routine. By using the techniques above you can master the art of cutting and preparing bok choy in no time at all.