Garlic Sesame Bok Choy [10 Minutes to the Table]

Are you short on time and need an easy, healthy, delicious dinner? This Easy Sautéed Baby Sesame Garlic Soy Bok Choy is a real crowd-pleaser. In this clean and straightforward recipe, the baby Bok Choy is blanched to crisp perfection and then sautéed with sesame oil, garlic, and a touch of soy sauce to coat the vegetable in a fragrant light sauce. This dish is a perfect complement to any protein or main dish and can all be made in just 10 minutes! The baby Bok choy becomes silky and fragrant and is downright addictive!

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What is baby bok choy?

Baby bok choy is Chinese cabbage with many names. This vegetable is also referred to as pak choi, pak choy, or bok choi. It tastes like a combination of eating spinach, water chestnuts, and celery together. There are numerous ways to spell this vegetable.

Can I use a larger bok choy for this dish?

Yes, you can absolutely use full-sized bok choy for this dish. With full-sized bok choy, I recommend breaking it down and cutting it into smaller pieces. The beauty of using the baby bok choy is that you don’t have to cut it. 

Is this easy Garlic Sesame Bok Choy [10 Minutes to the Table] dish healthy for you?

Yes, this dish is extremely healthy! Bok choy is loaded with essential antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. For a full breakdown of this Chinese cabbage, learn more by reading here

What does garlic sesame bok choy taste like?

The blanched bok choy has a slightly sweet flavor and peppery bite. When the vegetable is sautéed with garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce, the combination becomes nutty, aromatic, and packed with umami! This dish is clean yet also quite flavorful.

Why did I choose to create this Garlic Sesame Bok Choy [10 Minutes to the Table]dish?

This recipe is a classic rendition of traditional Chinese-style stir-fried bok choy. By blanching the vegetable first, the crisp structure of the stalk stays intact, and then when sautéed, the baby bok choy gets beautifully coated in the silky sauce from the garlic oil and soy. The result is simply addictive, and it’s just so easy! 

Here’s how to make this Garlic Sesame Bok Choy [10 Minutes to the Table] dish.

photo of Baby bok choy, soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic laid out on a white table

Garlic Sesame Bok Choy [10 Minutes to the Table] Ingredients 

Baby Bok Choy: I love using baby bok choy for this dish because, in the recipe, I love keeping them whole. Not cutting takes away one less step, and the result is just delicious. Baby bok choy it’s filling, crunchy, smooth, and delicate. Blanching the vegetable first preserves the color and vibrancy. Baby bok choy is also loaded with vitamins and nutrients. It contains vitamins A, C, B6, K, and E and has large amounts of calcium, manganese, potassium, and iron.

Toasted Sesame OilAlways buy toasted sesame oil with a dark brown color for a richer, nuttier flavor. 

Garlic: I like to use a Japanese mandolin to slice the garlic thinly, and I love the texture it adds to the baby bok choy. If you don’t own a mandolin, you can, of course, use a knife. Make sure you don’t burn the thinly sliced garlic in the sauté pan. 

Soy Sauce: I always use low-sodium soy sauce to be healthier. However, any soy sauce will work for this recipe. Tamari is also fantastic! 

Kosher Salt: Using high-quality Kosher salt is an absolute MUST for cooking! It will provide a better final product! The salt acts as a “cooking agent.” It helps to break down the baby Bok choy and extract water content. Thus, it aids in the “quick pickling process” and helps to bring out the vegetables’ natural sweetness and flavor. 

Needed Equipment

Cutting board

Chef’s knife or Santoku Knife

Colander

Large Pot for blanching

Large Chef mixing Spoon

Tongs

Japanese Mandolin

Cut Resistant Glove for the Mandolin

Large Sauté Pan

Measuring Spoon Set

Process:

1. Wash the baby bok choy in a colander.

2. Fill a large pot with water and place it over high heat. 

3. Add salt to the water to taste “salty like the sea.” 

salt being put into a pot of water preparing to boil

4. Cover the pot with a lid and wait until it reaches a rapid boil.

5. Uncover the pot and submerge the baby bok choy in the water for 30-40 seconds. The baby bok choy should be tender but still hold a crunch.

baby bok choy being put in a pot with tongs
baby bok choy in a pot blanched

6. Strain the bok choy in a colander and immediately rinse the vegetable under cold water or submerge it in an ice bath. You want to stop the cooking process of the vegetable. By halting this cooking process, the vibrancy and structure of the baby bok choy will remain intact. Reserve. 

fresh baby bok choy in a colander

7. Remove the skin from your garlic cloves and use a mandolin to slice the garlic as thin as possible. While slicing the garlic, you can wear a cut-resistant glove if you are afraid of cutting yourself while using a mandolin. Reserve. 

slicing the garlic on a mandolin

8. Place the sliced garlic into a large cold sauté pan. Add the sesame oil and place over moderate heat. 

sliced garlic in a pan
oil being poured into a pan over garlic

9. Allow the garlic to be slightly brown and crisp for about 1 minute. 

Garlic and oil sauteing in a pan

10. Immediately add the blanched baby bok choy and stir with tongs to mix and coat the baby bok choy with the oil to prevent the garlic from burning. 

baby bok choy just starting to saute in a pan

11. Add the soy sauce to the pan and stir with your tongs to combine. 

Sauteing baby bok choy and garlic and soy sauce

12. Cook over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes to allow the baby bok choy to caramelize in the pan. 

Sauteing baby bok choy and garlic carmelizing.

13. Remove from heat and enjoy!

Sauteed baby bok choy close up in chopsticks

Tips and tricks for success

  • Salting your water is critical. The salt acts as a chemical agent, helping to cook the baby bok choy from the inside out. Salt also flavors the vegetable, so you should need to use less in the final cooking/tasting. 
  • After blanching, it is paramount to submerge or rinse the baby bok choy in extremely cold water. If you do not do this, this baby bok choy will continue to cook, and most likely, it will turn mushy. The goal is to cook the vegetable and maintain its integrity and crunch. 
  • Because garlic is so fragile and cooks quickly, you can allow the garlic and oil to come up to temperature together to infuse your sesame oil better.
  • Watch your garlic in the pan and be ready to add the baby bok choy so your garlic doesn’t burn. Garlic crisps quickly in a hot pan with oil, and when you add the baby bok choy, it immediately adds moisture and will also cool the pan down with its added contents. 

FAQS

Why did I choose to blanch the baby bok choy before sauteing?

Blanching allows you to obtain the maximum integrity of the vegetable (its color and consistency) by breaking it down slightly as it is semi-cooked. Blanching allows you to par-cook. This slight cooking process removes any bitterness, yet the vegetable’s body and structure remain intact. The blanched baby bok choy only takes seconds to sauté, and it’s coated in the luxurious garlic soy sauce. 

What is blanching?

Blanching: Elements submerged in boiling water for a short time to “par-cook” until tender. Once removed from the boiling water, it is best to shock the elements in cold or iced water to stop the cooking process completely. Doing this will maintain and uphold the element’s vibrancy and natural texture.  

What are the essential steps for blanching?

1) Your water must be “salty like the sea.” The salt acts as a “cooking agent,” cooking the vegetable from the inside out. You should taste your salted water before it comes to a boil, and it should resemble seawater. 

2) Do not overcrowd your water. Blanch your ingredients in batches at a rolling boil. If you add too many elements to the water, the heat of your water will lower, defeating the purpose of blanching. 

3) If you are blanching in batches, allow your water to come back up to a roiling boiling before you submerge the next round. 

Is baby bok choy healthier than cabbage?

Both vegetables are incredibly healthy for you. I don’t think one is more beneficial than the other, but I like using baby bok choy for this dish because you don’t have to cut it. The bok choy bulbs become tasty little morsels after they are coated in the garlic soy sauce. The dish will be slightly different from the cabbage because the cabbage will have to be chopped. 

How to cook baby bok choy without garlic

If you do not have garlic or are opposed to the allium, you can simply omit it from the recipe. The baby bok choy will still obtain a sensational flavor from the sesame oil and soy sauce. 

What flavors go well with baby bok choy?

I like pairing this dish with Asian flavor profiles. It pairs wonderfully with any protein or starch, and you can add a bit of chili oil for extra spice. I use garlic, sesame oil, and soy for this dish, but any recipe that uses these flavor profiles and perhaps adds a little ginger would also be fantastic. 

How do you cook baby bok choy, so it’s not bitter?

By blanching the baby bok choy, most of the raw bitterness is taken away. 

What is a suitable replacement for baby bok choy?

If you do not have baby bok choy, you can always substitute it for full-sized bok choy, broccoli, Chinese broccoli, or any Chinese greens.

Where can I buy baby bok choy and toasted sesame oil?

Baby bok choy can be found in most health food supermarkets and Asian markets in the vegetable section. Toasted sesame oil can be obtained at most supermarkets either in the oil section or in the ethnic aisle. 

Variations

Replacements for Baby Bok Choy: Full-sized bok choy, broccoli, Chinese broccoli, Chinese greens

Nut or Seed Allergy: Avocado oil also works wonderfully 

Soy/ Gluten Allergy: You can use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. 

Suggested Meal Pairings

Salmon, Yellowtail, and Toro Jalapeño Sashimi

Crispy Vegetable Golden Rice

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake

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Bok Choy with Garlic 3

Garlic Sesame Bok Choy [10 Minutes to the Table]

This baby bok choy recipe is simple, quick, and deliciously satisfying! The vegetable is blanched so it is crisp, tender, and vibrant and then sautéed with toasted sesame oil, garlic, and soy sauce for a fragrant Asian flair. Baby bok choy naturally has a peppery bite, and it becomes silky and glossy as it's coated in the light sauce. This dish is a perfect complement to any protein or main dish and can all be made in less than 10 minutes
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Vegetable Sides
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 people
Calories 103 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Cutting board
  • 1 Chef's knife or Santoku knife
  • 1 Colander
  • 1 Large pot for blanching
  • 1 Large Chef mixing Spoon
  • 1 Tongs
  • 1 Japanese mandolin
  • 1 Cut-resistant glove for mandolin
  • 1 Large Sauté Pan
  • 1 Measuring Spoon Set

Ingredients
  

Bok Choy

  • 1.5 lbs baby bok choy, full-sized bok hoy works as well
  • 1.5 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • kosher salt to add to boiling water

Instructions
 

Baby Bok Choy

  • Place a large pot of water over high heat and season the water so it tastes "salty like the sea."
  • When the water comes to a rapid boil, submerge the baby bok choy and cook uncovered for about 30-50 seconds, just until tender and the baby bok choy still holds its crunch.
  • Strain the baby bok choy in a colander and immediately run it under cold water or submerge it in an ice bath. Submerging in an ice bath or running the vegetable under cold water will keep the baby bok choy from over-cooking and stop the cooking process.
  • Add the thinly sliced garlic and sesame oil to a large cold sauté pan.
  • Place the sauté pan over moderate heat and cook the garlic for about 1 minute to allow the garlic to be slightly brown and crisp.
  • Immediately add the blanched baby bok choy and stir with tongs to mix and coat the baby bok choy with the oil to prevent the garlic from burning.
  • Add the soy sauce to the pan and stir with your tongs to combine.
  • Cook over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes to allow the baby bok choy to caramalize in the pan.
  • Remove from heat and enjoy!

Notes

  • Salting your water is critical. The salt acts as a chemical agent, helping to cook the baby bok choy from the inside out. It also flavors the vegetable, so you should need less salt in the final cooking/tasting. 
  • After blanching, it is paramount to submerge or rinse the baby bok choy in extremely cold water. If you do not do this, this baby bok choy will continue to cook, and most likely, it will turn mushy. The goal is to cook the vegetable and maintain its integrity and crunch. 
  • Watch your garlic in the pan and be ready to add the baby bok choy, so your garlic doesn’t burn. Garlic crisps quickly in a hot pan with oil, and when you add the baby bok choy, it immediately adds moisture and will also cool the pan down with its added contents. 

Nutrition

Calories: 103kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 4gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 958mgPotassium: 40mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 10093IUVitamin C: 103mgCalcium: 256mgIron: 2mg
Keyword bok choy recipe, garlic sesame bok choy, stir fry bok choy recipe
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  1. Obsessed with Baby Bok Choy! Thank you for this easy and delectable veggie recipe! On weekly rotation for family dinner at my house 🥬!

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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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