Soy-Glazed Baby Bok Choy ♥

Finally, baby bok choy
An introduction to two kinds of bok choy, including regular bok choy and Shanghai bok choy and their baby bok choy variations.

Last month, I cooked boy choy for the first time - at least I thought so. Turns out, that bok choy was actually Chinese cabbage, a variant for sure but also decidedly different, more like Napa cabbage or even romaine lettuce. So when both baby bok choy and baby Shanghai bok choy showed up in the produce section at my neighborhood international market, I decided to tackle bok choy, for real this time.

And I love the concept of this recipe, just skillet-browned bok choy which finishes cooking in a soy-vinegar glaze. It's good -- very good, even -- but the soy overpowers the flavor of the bok choy itself. So this recipe is perhaps suited for someone who loves bok choy and is looking for a new way to cook it, versus a neophyte like myself who's getting acquainted for the first time. (Or you could just use about a tiny splash of soy sauce.)

BTW, bok choy is quite delicious raw, just sliced for snacking, I tried!

KITCHEN NOTES This would be a great vegetable if you're cooking for one or two, just cook what you need in a small skillet.

Bok choy is a favorite among Asian greens but I'm just now beginning to figure them out. Here's what I've learned. (Please know that I'm not an expert myself but am gathering information from reliable sources, including Asian Greens and Vegetable Love. One thing is clear: bok choy is good and good for for you!)

First of all, the names are all confusing and apparently, mostly interchangeable: Bok choy yes but also pak choy, pac choi, Chinese cabbage, Chinese mustard cabbage and a whole pile of others.

Overall, bok choy is a member of the cabbage family but in culinary terms, is treated like a leafy green. Quite lithe and graceful in appearance, bok choy has distinctly separate stems and leaves. (If it's a 'head' or cylinder, it's likely a variety closer to Chinese cabbage and is similar to Napa cabbage. It can be eaten either raw or cooked.) The stems may be green or white and are crunchy and juicy, good both raw and cooked. The leaves really need to be cooked, treated like a leafy green. There are numerous varieties, these two are most common in (American, anyway) supermarkets.
Bok choy & Baby bok choy Bok choy and baby bok choy have dark green leaves and milky-white stalks. Baby bok choy is smaller. Tip to tail, what's pictured measured about six inches.
Shanghai bok choy & Baby Shanghai bok choy Shanghai bok choy is similar in shape to bok choy but the leaves and stalks are both pale green. The stalks are 'spoon' shaped and so can be used for scooping. Its flavor is slightly mustard-y. Tip to tail, what's pictured measured about six inches.

"Loved this one ... I like how just splitting them makes for such an elegant presentation. " ~ Claire
"Great recipe! I added snow peas with the baby bok choy...outstanding!" ~ Pearl


Hands-on time: 20 minutes (some time to spare)
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (definitely optional, also a whole tablespoon seemed way too much)

1 tablespoon peanut oil (or use 2 teaspoons to keep to 1 tablespoon fat total)
1 pound baby bok choy, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise

3 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1 tablespoon from a jar)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (from a jar)
2 green onions, chopped (none on hand so skipped this)

1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used low-salt)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Toast the sesame seeds (if you're using) in a dry non-stick skillet to golden. Set aside.

Add the peanut oil to the skillet and let heat on MEDIUM HIGH. When it's hot, add the bok choy, cut side down, interweaving so the stems touch the skillet, the greens stay on top. Let brown for 3 - 4 minutes. Turn over and cook a minute. Transfer to a platter. (While they're cooking, assemble the glaze ingredients in a small bowl.)

Add the garlic, ginger and green onion to the skillet, let cook 1 minute. Add the glaze ingredients and cook til just beginning to thicken, about 1 minute. Return the bok choy to the skillet, cut side down and cook for a minute or two. Return to the serving platter, top with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic


~ watch for new bok choy recipes ~
~ look for more ideas with leafy green recipes ~

one year ago this week
~ Fattoush ~
it took three tries to get this traditional Middle Eastern salad 'just right'
two years ago today
~ Borscht Beets ~
"the taste is utterly distinctive - the blend of caraway and sour cream is subtle and screaming at the same time"

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. Thanks, Alanna, for bok choy's back story. I've only recently discovered baby bok choy. Based on this great post, turns out I had the Shanghai variety. No matter the name, it was wonderful, and so is this recipe.

  2. Maybe this will be what motivates me to try this one. I'm always meaning to do this and don't seem to get to it.

  3. Very informative post. I love baby bok choy (or is it pak choi?!) and often serve it for dinner parties.

  4. I had no idea there were so many variations -- I wonder what I've actually been cooking. Thanks for the info.

  5. AnonymousJuly 18, 2007

    This is a lot simpler way to prepare bok choy than my old standy (much less chopping, for example!!) - I'm going to have to give it a try!

  6. I only like eating bak choy when someone else cooks it so sure, I'll eat yours :)

  7. Loved this one - made it for dinner last night. I like how just splitting them makes for such an elegant presentation. Thanks Alanna!

  8. Great recipe! I added snow peas with the baby bok choy...outstanding!


Post a Comment

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