Bok choy and I had never met until a couple years ago. It's still definitely one of the new kids in American veggie land. When I went through the Walmart checkout recently (and, yes, they do carry it at Walmart so it's not the newest kid in town), the checker had no idea what it was. When I told him, he said this was his first time checking bok choy. Which just goes to prove what a trendy metropolis Evansville is. If, of course, by trendy metropolis you're referring to the city with the most McDonald's per square foot (note: I just made that fact up; it may or may not be true).
At any rate, if you haven't made bok choy's acquaintance, you really should. It's a lovely green Chinese cabbage (not to be confused with Napa cabbage, which is also a Chinese variety, but different). It does quite well in cool weather and for that reason, often makes an appearance in fall CSA boxes. Which is where--I believe--I first met it.
Of course I had no idea what to do with it. Which is when allrecipes.com came to the rescue. You know, in a lot of ways, allrecipes is sort of the amazon.com of recipe land. It's not necessarily the most chic of all internet venues, but it comes sporting tons of reviews, comments, suggestions, and--thus--a pretty good idea of what you'll get.
The recipe I found was good enough to inspire me to grow bok choy in my own garden that year. As I plan to do in the years to come. But this month I just bought it. From the now-enlightened checker at Walmart. I hope you will too.
You'll be surprised at how amazing it is. It has a fresh, crisp, slightly exotic flavor, which is accentuated when prepared with some sesame oil and a soy sauce based glaze. It's great with fish or mixed in with rice, but I really enjoyed it just in a big bowl as well.
(By the way, you'll see a few different spellings for bok choy, so know that pak choy, bak choi, etc. are all really the same thing.)
Bok Choy in Soy Glaze
adapted just a bit from allrecipes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Cost: $1.70-ish. The main cost comes from your bok choy, so it depends on how much you pay for it.
1 lb bok choy (about 1 large head)
1 Tbsp canola oil (I used a bit less--all is well as long as your pan stays well greased)
1 Tbsp sesame oil (I used a bit less)
1/4 C water
1 tsp grated, peeled fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
a pinch or 2 of crushed red pepper flakes
1. Trim off the ends and wash your bok choy.
2. Here's the most important part: You must separate your stalks and leaves. Just chop the green leaf parts off of the white stem parts. Then chop the stems and chop the leaves. The stems take longer to cook and if you just throw them all in together, you'll have mushy gross leaves by the time your stems are tender. Raw-ish stems are actually usually pretty tasty, but can be difficult to digest, so, well, there you go.
3. Heat oils in a large skillet over medium high heat.
4. Throw in your chopped white stalks. Give them a toss in the oils and give them a stir occasionally.
5. While they cook, mix the water, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
6. When stems are almost cooked (they'll turn a pale green and be tender), add the leaves. Cook them until they've wilted (1-2 minutes). Remove this from heat.
7. Pour your water/soy sauce/sugar mixture into your skillet and boil until reduced by half and slightly syrupy (this won't take long). When it's done, throw the leaves back in the skillet and give them a toss in the glaze. Serve hot.