What is Baby Bok Choy?

I often crave vibrant greens that hold just the right amount of crunch and sweetness. That's why I'm a huge proponent and chomper of baby bok choy. It has enough body to pair perfectly with any protein or make an excellent addition to any stir fry, sauté, steamed dish, or soup. There is literally nothing better than slurping chewy noodles and umami-based broth along with the freshness of this versatile green.
baby bok choy.


What is baby bok choy?

  • Baby bok choy is a Chinese cabbage with a similar flavor if you combined spinach, water chestnuts, and celery. 
  • Because it’s native to China, it’s thought of as an Asian vegetable, although you can use it for any cuisine.
  • The base or stalks have a lovely crunch, while the leaves are a bit sweeter and more tender.
  • There are numerous ways to spell this vegetable, and it is also known as pak choi, pak choy, or bok choi.
  • It is in the cruciferous family, including broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, radishes, watercress, collard greens, and cabbage.

What is the difference between regular bok choy and baby bok choy?

  • There is virtually no difference between regular-sized bok choy and baby bok choy.
  • Baby bok choy is harvested earlier than regular-sized bok choy, and as a result, the vegetable is naturally smaller and overall is a bit sweeter.  
  • There are two main varieties of this vegetable.
    • The taste, composition, and genetic breakdown of the two varieties are very similar. 
  1. The standard bok choy has a bright white base/stems that are quite wide and have large green leaves.
  2. Shanghai bok choy has dark green leaves and a slightly lighter green base.
  • Baby bok choy is a smaller, earlier harvested variety of the Shanghai bok choy.
  • These two varieties are often marketed and sold to the public with the same name.

Are all parts of the vegetable edible?

  • Yes, all parts of baby bok choy and regular-sized bok choy are edible.
  • The leaves are so sweet on baby bok choy that you can enjoy them raw in salads and other composed uncooked dishes.
a close up of baby bok choy

How to clean baby bok choy

  • Because this is a vegetable planted from seed and grows from the ground, the outer layers tend to hold some dirt.
  • I like to remove several stalks of the outmost layers and run the vegetable under cold water in a colander.

What are the nutritional properties of baby bok choy?

  • This vegetable is 95% water, 2% carbohydrate, 1% protein, and contains slim to no fat.
  • Its benefits include being rich in vitamins A, C, K, and B6 and being a great source of fiber, folate, calcium, and antioxidants.
  • Folate and vitamin B6 help break down an amino acid in your body called homocysteine, which can cause strokes, heart disease, and dementia if too high.
  • It has been noted that cruciferous vegetables help prevent cell damage which in turn lowers the risk of getting cancer.
  • Baby bok choy is quite fibrous, which helps maintain a good gut and digestive system.
  • This vegetable contains a plant pigment called quercetin, which has been noted to reduce bloating and inflammation.

How do you cut and cook baby bok choy

  • It is best to take off a few of the outer and larger layers to clean, but then keep the baby bok choy intact.
  • I like to cook this vegetable in whole bulbs.
  • If you wish to cut them, make one cut directly through the core, cut in half, but keep the leaves together.
  • Baby bok choy takes 30 seconds-three minutes to cook, depending on the quantity of the vegetable.
  • It can be enjoyed blanched, sautéed, steamed, in soup, baked, or roasted.
scattered baby bok choy

Tips and tricks for cooking success

  • The key to properly cooking this vegetable is not to overcook it. 
  • If you are blanching:
    • You want to cook just until the stems are tender, but they still hold a crunch. After taking the greens out of the boiling water, you want to immediately submerge them in an ice bath or run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. This will help maintain the vibrancy of the vegetable. 
  • If you are sautéing:
    • Add this vegetable at the very end of your sauté process. 
  • If you are steaming:
    •  Make sure you do not allow it to overcook. Remove it from the steam when the base layers are tender but still hold a crunch. 
  • If you are cooking in soup: 
    • Add as one of the very last ingredients to your hot simmering liquid. 
  • If you are baking or roasting: 
    • Make sure you have your oven at a high temperature, so you can get a beautiful caramelization from roasting but still keep the integrity of the vegetable. You do not want to eat mush. 

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About Sarah
Sarah blair

Adding a generous dose of enthusiasm, excitement, and creativity to the culinary world, Sarah began her career at the French Culinary Institute in NYC. Sarah has worked for the past decade as a Culinary Producer and Food Stylist.

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