Incorporate Asian vegetables into your menu with fresh pak choi. Also known as bok choy, the low-calorie, vitamin C- and folate-rich leafy green vegetable is a flavorful source of calcium. Baby pak choi, picked when the leaf bundles are no larger than 6 or 7 inches high, is an elegant accompaniment to tofu, noodles and Asian-inspired main dishes. Mature pak choi is typically stir-fried and served warm as a colorful side dish. Pak choi is available fresh at farmers markets in late fall and in well-stocked grocery store produce sections year-round.
Stir-Fried Pak Choi
Separate the leaves of mature pak choi and rinse under cool, running water. Cut into pieces roughly 1-inch square. Prepare 2 cups raw pak choi per serving.
Blend 1 tbsp. each of water and white wine or dry sherry with 1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce, per serving. Whisk 1 tsp. cornstarch and 1 tsp. sugar into the liquid.
Pour 2 tsp., per serving, sesame or canola oil into a heavy frying pan. Heat the oil on a high setting. Add the pak choi to the pan, tossing frequently with tongs. After four minutes, pour the liquid mixture into the pan and turn several times to coat the leaves as you cook for one more minute before serving.
Seared Baby Pak Choi
Rinse baby pak choi thoroughly in cold running water. Lay the whole head of pak choi on a cutting board and slice in half lengthwise.
Measure 1 tsp. canola oil per section of pak choi into a heavy skillet and heat at medium-high. When hot, place the pak choi cut-side down in the pan. Sprinkle each half with a scant pinch of kosher salt and let cook without turning for two minutes. Lift one piece of pak choi with tongs to check that the cooked side. Cook another 30 to 45 seconds if necessary.
Turn the pak choi over in the pan. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. chicken or vegetable broth per piece of seared pak choi. Let cook undisturbed for one minute, then toss lightly for another minute or two until the stems are completely softened.
Add minced garlic, pepper flakes or lemon zest during the last minute of searing or stir-frying pak choi for an extra flavor boost.
Garnish cooked pak choi with toasted almond slivers or sesame seeds, chives or chopped cilantro.
Do not use pak choi that is wilted or soft. Select heads that have crisp stems and dark green leaves.