Last month, Asian Hawkers Market had hosted a food festival of sorts where all big pan Asian restaurants of the city had put up stalls and were serving up dishes with exotic names. I went on to order Phad Kee Maow Tohu (tofu and vegetables with hot basil, chilli and dark soya sauce) from the center of the much celebrated restaurant Neung Roi – Radisson Blu Plaza, Mahipalpur, Delhi. What delighted both my taste buds and health spotting habit was the presence of bok choy in that delectable dish – a generous portion of it. Have you too noticed, how somehow tofu only tastes great in an Asian recipe and sauce. Similarly, bok choy too is usually spotted typically in far east Asian and, of course, Chinese cuisines. I enjoyed the dish so much, that I knew I needed to write about this understated crunchy, delicious and super healthy vegetable, also interestingly called a “soup spoon” because of the shape of its leaves.
How often have you seen bok choy (also known as Chinese white cabbage) at the supermarket, or listed as an ingredient of soups, stews, and stir-fry dishes when you eat out and omitted/neglected this lesser known veggie in favour of the more familiar cabbage? Almost always I presume! Probably because you aren’t familiar enough with it! But you’ll be surprised to know just how much goodness is packed in this unremarkable looking vegetable.
- There are a total of some 21 potent nutrients in this leafy vegetable, including the difficult to find omega-3s, as well as the antioxidant minerals zinc and magnesium.
- A cup delivers about 70 mg of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega 3, which is a decent amount to get from a vegetarian source.
- It is high in vitamin C, B6, beta-carotene (vitamin A that reduces the risk of certain cancers and the risk of cataracts) and bone strengthening vitamin K too.
- There are over 70 antioxidant phenolic substances in bok choy, which help scavenge free radicals, known culprits for cancer and other inflammatory diseases.
- And of course, it’s low fat, low calorie, and low carb and delivers a good amount of gut strengthening fibre.
- Finally it also delivers calcium, to help keep osteoporosis at bay.
Get the power
What’s there not to love about its easy-to-chew texture, mild and somewhat sweet taste and amazing versatility! But to get the most health benefits from bok choy, let them sit for about 5 minutes before cooking. Sprinkling with lemon juice before letting them sit can further enhance its beneficial phytonutrient concentration. Some people like to have it raw; the stalks can be eaten with a dip, or chopped and used in salads.
This versatile vegetable can be steamed, boiled, or sautéed and added to pastas, soups and stews or used as a stuffing and somehow to me it tastes best, slightly sautéed/steamed with garlic and ginger.
Try this: Slice the greens and juicy white stalks, then sauté like spinach or toss into a stir-fry just before serving. Bok choy also goes rather well with the flavours of soy sauce, hot peppers, and sesame oil. The Koreans even make a variation of Kimchi with bok choy. Try someday maybe! And of course, eat lots of it when you do order in a nice Thai dish for yourself, and not cast aside on the plate.