Shanghai Bok Choy / Green Bok Choy

Bok Choy is not a cabbage but turnip greens. All versions feature a sharper flavor with thicker, crisper stems than Napa Cabbage (also a turnip green). The White Stemmed varieties are very popular in stir fries and soups, while Shanghai Bok Choy is often steamed whole or split lengthwise. Bok choy does not form tight heads but the clusters of stems form a tight bundle

Shanghai Bok Choy
Shanghai Bok Choy heads [Green Bok Choy; Baby Bok Choy (North American groceries); Qing Cai (Shanghai Chinese, lit. "Green Vegetable"); Pak Kwang Tung Hong Tae (Thai); Cai Bo Xoi (Viet); Chingensai (Japanese); Brassica rapa Group Chinensis]

This Turnip Green is probably the most popular vegetable in the Shanghai region (Zhejiang), and is now widely available in North American produce and supermarkets. It's smaller than the white stemmed bok choy they sell, so supermarkets, always anxious to snag the yuppie dollar, call it "baby bok choy". Hey, yuppies buy "baby carrots" (machine made from large carrots) and bags of bland "baby spinach", so "baby" anything should sell, right?.

The flavor of this bok choy is distinctly different from that of the white stemmed variety. Besides being light green, the leaf stems are much thinner and more tender. This variety is better suited to steam whole or split lengthwise as the stems cook almost as quickly as the greens.

Shanghai Bok Choy Mui   -   [Qing Cai Mui (Shanghai Chinese); Sin Kon Choy Mui (market)]
Shanghai Bok Choy Mui heads

This is the "Mui" form of the Shanghai Bok Choy described above. It is becoming much more available in the Asian markets, and is very popular in southern China, especially for cooking whole. It is not a "baby" plant, but a dwarf variety that is fully mature and may have flower buds. The photo specimens were sold as Sin Choy Mui by a market in Los Angeles (San Gabriel) that uses a mix of Chinese and Vietnamese names. These were up to 5-1/2 inches long and average weight was 0.66 ounces each.

More on Asian Greens .



Buying:   Most North American produce and supermarkets now carry the full size Shanghai Bok Choy as "Baby Bok Choy". The "Mui" version can be found only in Asian markets. See that the heads are firm and the leaves are not yellowing, spotted or off color. Such leaves must be discarded.

Storing:   Loosely wrapped in plastic and refrigerated, they will keep several days and then start to turn yellow, rather rapidly. Yellowing leaves have lost their flavor.

Cooking:   Shanghai Bok Choy, if not too large, is often steamed whole or split lengthwise, usually by steaming. Since the stems quite tender they don't need to be cooked separately. It can also be used in stir fries and other recipes the same way as the white stemmed, but give the stems less lead time over the leaves, if any. For any method, do not overcook.

Health and Nutrition   Bok Choys are considered a very healthy, nutritious green, and suspected of anti-cancer properties due to containing Glucosinolate. Due to the glucosinolate, Bok Choy can be toxic to people already seriously ill - but it takes about 2 to 3 pounds a day, every day, to be dangerous.

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