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Bok choy is a Chinese cabbage many fans of greens are well familiar with. Although popular in Chinese cooking, bok choy (or pak choi, pak choy, and bok choi as it is also sometimes called) can be used as a substitute vegetable in many recipes for a new flavor, or cooked with fresh garlic and ginger as a side or light lunch. While the raw taste of bok choy is somewhat bitter, cooking it will remove that taste and replace it with some slight sweetness. It also has some cancer fighting properties. Read on for the entire schpeal on this interesting green!

Bok Choy Culture and History

As a Chinese cabbage, it might be obvious to say that this vegetable was originally grown in China. It has, however, made its way around the world, and different varieties are grown in the United States and Canada. How far back does bok choy date in China? An archeological excavation of an ancient Chinese village found some seeds that were more than 6,000 years old, along with poetry and other writing that praised the green. Most likely during the 18th century, Europeans planted the seeds for bok choy and began cultivating it there. Available year round in America and Canada, its popularity here was only recently developed. Bok choy is also very popular in the Philippines, where many Chinese immigrated following Spain’s conquest about 500 years ago. Despite the fact that it can be used to replace lettuce and cabbage in other dishes, bok choy is firmly associated with Chinese cooking. The full-size plants can grow two to three feet in height and is ready for harvest about two months after planting.

Health Benefits of Bok Choy

Bok choy was used historically for medicinal purposes by the Chinese, and is used in modern medicine as well to treat some ailments. Among its many uses are lubricating the intestines, removing stagnant food, quenching thirst, and promoting digestion. In other words, the Chinese use bok choy in part to help with indigestion. The glucosinulates found in bok choy are also purported to prevent cancer in small doses, but can be toxic to humans in large doses. These sulfur containing compounds are responsible for bok choy’s slightly bitter taste, but they help to inhibit colorectal, breast, prostate, and lung cancer.

One cup of cooked bok choy provides about 70 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, and about 140 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. Those nutrients help maintain gums and promote healthy eyesight. Bok choy is also a good source of calcium, important in bone growth and heart and muscle action. Like most vegetables, bok choy is low on calories at about 20 per serving. Potassium, iron, and manganese are also found, and the vegetable is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension, as most cruciferous vegetables are.

Eating more Bok Choy

As bok choy can be eaten raw in a salad or other form in order to maintain all of the nutritional value, this is one of the more highly touted ways of consumption. In one study by Conscious Eating, up to 90 percent of the nutritional value of bok choy was destroyed by steaming it for 10 minutes. Keeping in mind how well the flavors blend, and how little cooking is necessary, perhaps the best method is steaming in water/wine, oil, garlic, and ginger for about a minute just to soften it up a bit, and then adding it to a basic rice dish. Get creative, although bok choy is pretty strictly associated with Chinese cooking, no one makes the rules on which food goes with what! Leave us some comments on your favorite bok choy dishes, and share the article with your friends!