Bok choy, a member of the cabbage family, is possibly the best known Asian green in U.S. markets. Its pale green stems are juicy and full of crunch, while the leaves are silkier; both leaves and stems are eaten, usually together, and the flavor is mild with a peppery bite. Bok choy can be steamed or stir-fried on its own to serve as a side dish, or it can be incorporated into one-dish recipes. It's particularly amenable to the flavors of sesame, ginger, garlic and soy sauce.
The briny flavors of seafood match well with the crisp vegetal nature of bok choy. Serve it next to steamed halibut, sauteed flounder, seared tuna or teriyaki salmon. Both delicate-fleshed fish and fattier, meatier fish play well with bok choy. Don't neglect shellfish, either -- stir-fry it with shrimp or scallops.
Pork is a common meat choice for stir-fries, so it's not surprising that it pairs so well with bok choy. For a side dish, try sauteing or stir-frying bok choy leaves with bacon, pancetta or salt pork. A simple stir-fry of pork slices and bok choy could be a main dish. Or serve steamed bok choy as the side dish to accompany red-cooked pork belly.
The chewy, meaty character of mushrooms plays off the bright, crisp flavors of bok choy when the two are cooked together in a stir-fry or soup. White, brown and shiitake mushrooms are all fine choices; if you like, you can also experiment with cloud ear and other varieties of Asian dried mushrooms. Stir-fry together and add a little oyster sauce as a flavor booster.
For some reason, sweet potatoes and bok choy combine well together, especially in Southeast Asian curries. The sweet potato provides a rich mouth feel and an earthy but sweet taste while the bok choy provides the crispness and a slightly bitter note to offset that sweet, meaty flavor. Try the combination in either a green or red curry with coconut milk. Add tofu for a protein boost and serve over rice.
Cut bok choy leaves into long, thin slivers and suddenly they're a great match for noodles of all kinds, thick and thin, from wheat noodles to rice noodles to sweet potato noodles. Serve these noodle dishes warm or cold. Dress them with some sesame oil and soy sauce. Or prepare a noodle soup with chopped bok choy, pork or chicken and copious amounts of ginger and garlic.
- Asian Ingredients: Bruce Cost
- The Flavor Bible: Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
- WebMD: Bok Choy -- 10 Healthy Facts
Lori A. Selke has been a professional writer and editor for more than 15 years, touching on topics ranging from LGBT issues to sexuality and sexual health, parenting, alternative health, travel, and food and cooking. Her work has appeared in Curve Magazine, Girlfriends, Libido, The Children's Advocate, Decider.com, The SF Weekly, EthicalFoods.com and GoMag.com.