Garlicky Bok Choy ♥

Bok choy with radish for colorWhile developing the Alphabet of Vegetables, call me surprised to find a hundred carrot recipes and a thousand beet recipes, but no recipes for bok choy! Have I ever cooked bok choy? Maybe not.

Seems I'm not alone. While my food blogging pals regularly cook baby bok choy, the big heads of bok choy (also called Chinese cabbage, bai cai, bok choi and pak choi, according to my source, Jack Bishop) are rare.

It's in the cabbage family but is often treated like a leafy green. I chose to 'start' with something simple, something all about the bok choy. So this is a very basic recipe, just bok choy (local, even!) quick-cooked with garlic and for color, some sliced radish (also local!). Bok choy keeps a bit of its bite when cooked even as radishes soften and sweeten during cooking; they were quite perfect together.

UPDATE (6/14/07) After a little sleuthing, I've become convinced that what I cooked here was not actually bok choy (even if that's what the farmer I bought it from called it) but a somewhat different variety of cabbage mostly called Chinese cabbage. Food-wise, it's closer to Napa cabbage which can be eaten raw in salads or cooked, as here, where bok choy is fibrous enough that it's nearly always cooked.

UPDATE (6/16/07) Aha! I got some bok choy - some real bok choy this time - and made this same recipe. It turned out great! Watch for new additions to the bok choy recipes in the Alphabet of Vegetables.

I found this was even better cold the next day, chopped for the top of a salad.

TWO YEARS AGO Sherry Slaw ... "This slaw took a mere 10 minutes and was different than anything tasted before, still slaw, but different somehow. And good!"

A YEAR AGO THIS WEEK In Kitchen Parade, Tropical Salad Supper (made from Napa cabbage!) either stand-alone or paired beautifully with Tropical Pork Tenderloin.

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Hands-on time: 20 minutes (could be done ahead of time, perhaps even by a day or so)
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 6

1 pound head of bok choy or multiple heads of baby bok choy
5 or 6 radishes, trimmed and sliced in half moons (my addition, for color and texture contrast)
1 tablespoon peanut oil (the inspiring recipe called for roasted peanut oil)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable broth or chicken stock
Salt & pepper to taste

Wash the bok choy well. Remove the white stalks with a V cut, then chop. (For the Chinese cabbage, this takes a bit of time but you can start the skillet mid-way through.) Heat the oil in a large skillet til shimmery on MEDIUM. Add the chopped stalks and radishes, cook til just beginning to soften. Add the garlic and let cook for 2-3 minutes.

While stalks cook, roll four or five leaves into a 'cigar'. (No need to roll for baby bok choy, just chop the greens.) Holding the cigar together with your fingers, cut the cigar in half length-wise, then cut every inch or so cross-wise. (Or if you're a knife whiz, just roughly chop.) Add the leaves and broth, stir to wet greens, then cover and let cook, stirring once or twice, for about 10 minutes or til leaves are as soft as you like. Season to taste and serve.

A Veggie Venture is home of the Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and vegetable inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini. © Copyright 2007
Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Sorry, all, Blogger turned off comments without my knowing but they're back on now!

  2. You sent me to my vegetable mentor, Alex Hawkes (A World of Vegetable Cookery, 1968), an early-marriage classic. He has a bok choy stir fry: basic, but worldly for its time! Now to try yours -- maybe with roasted sesame oil? Thanks, Alanna.

  3. I like the idea of radishes with the bok choy. Can't wait to try it. I just started a "veggie venture" of my own, creating and finding recipes to use the produce from the CSA farm we just joined. I have two bok choy recipes on my blog if you are interested; if you had a moment, as a newbie I would love some feedback from a veteran blogger. I am at


  4. Oh how I am struggling with my bok choy! And after 3 weeks of bok choy we got chinese express this week (we too have a CSA) which I'm told is like bok choy but milder. I'm definitely eating more greens than I have in the past, but with my husband not a green eater (I have to hide it in things) I'm looking for new recipes. I have a veggie cookbook that has recipes for spinach, kale and swiss chard can I substitute for any of these?

  5. Hi Alyssa ~ Too much of something unfamiliar (and unappreciated by some) is hard, for sure. I find greens harder to cook with than anything, and they're so good for us, we just must.

    As for substitutions, I would compare the texture before deciding to proceed. For example, young spinach (and especially the spinach that comes in bags that so many people rely on) is so tender that it cooks in a flash. But young chard can be that way too, though a 'longer' flash. Kale would take longer. But then again, for example, at the farmers market this weekend I saw mustard greens so young and tender I didn't recognize them. I think the cooking method/recipe should be paired with the relative young-ness of the green, vs the type of green. Hope this helps, it's new thinking, prompted by your question.

  6. AnonymousJune 12, 2007

    The cookbook From Asparagus to Zucchini has a recipe for bok choy that I particularly enjoy. It's called Sesame Soy Braised Bok Choy, and i have it posted here:
    This past winter I made it while visiting my parents. They're not particularly adventurous with respect to vegetables, but really liked this.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna