Thursday, June 9, 2016

Featured Vegetable of the Week: Baby Bok Choi

by Andrea Yoder

We added baby bok choi to our repertoire of vegetables several years ago and it quickly became one of our “staple” crops that we now plant every week for as many as 20 weeks during our growing season. It is a mild-flavored Asian green that is related to some of our other favorites such as tat soi and hon tsai tai. We like the versatility of baby bok choi as it is tender enough to be eaten both raw in salads and cooked.  It is one of nature’s fast foods as it only takes a few minutes at most to stir-fry, saute or steam it. I usually slice the stems of baby bok choi separate from the leaves. If cooking, I give them a few additional minutes of cooking time before adding the leaves.
Before using the bok choi you will need to take a moment to clean it. Fill a sink with cold water and trim the base of the bok choi to allow the leaves to separate from the main stem. Swish the leaves in the water, and then check the base of each leaf. You may need to wash a little dirt off the base of the stem. If you are cooking the bok choi, remove the greens from the water and shake off excess water. If you are going to use the bok choi in a salad, you’ll want to dry them a little more in a salad spinner or put them in a kitchen towel and carefully shake them to remove excess moisture.
Bok choi may be added to seasonal stir-fries, lightly steamed or sautéed and eaten alongside steamed rice and fish, or even cut in half and lightly cooked on a hot grill. If you’d prefer to eat bok choi raw in a salad, simply dress the greens with a light vinaigrette.

Bok Choi Salad with Sesame-Almond Crunch
Yield:  4-5 servings

Sesame-Almond Crunch
1 cup slivered almonds
2 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted

3 Tbsp sugar
¼ cup grapeseed oil (may substitute sunflower oil)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
4-6   green onions, thinly sliced
1½ pounds baby bok choi, washed and dried

1.    Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread slivered almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside.
2.     Sprinkle 2 Tbsp sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a saucepan set over medium heat. The moment the sugar is completely liquefied, add almonds, stirring briskly to coat, then add sesame seeds, stirring until evenly distributed. Do this quickly, so that the mixture does not burn.  Immediately transfer nut mixture to a plate and let cool. 
3.     In the same saucepan, bring the dressing ingredients to a boil: sugar, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add sliced green onions and remove from heat. Dressing can be used while warm or cool.
4.     Meanwhile, slice the bok choi crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Just before serving, place bok choi in a large bowl and toss with dressing. Add the nut mixture and toss well.

Note from the HVF Test Kitchen:  This original recipe calls for 1 ½ pounds of bok choi, however you only received about 1 pound in your box this week. I would recommend mixing only the portion of salad you are going to eat at a given time with the dressing and sesame-almond crunch. Save any extra dressing and sesame-almond crunch to use with other greens such as hon tsai tai, turnip greens, or salad mix. 

**Recipe borrowed from  

Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Bok Choi

Yield:  4 servings

12-16 oz baby bok choi
1-inch piece fresh ginger
Kosher salt, to taste
8 oz rice noodles, not too thin
2-3 Tbsp peanut oil or sunflower oil
1 pound ground pork
¼ cup plus 1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 ½ cups sliced fresh mushrooms (shiitake, cremini, oyster, etc)
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
3 garlic scapes, finely chopped
1 fresh or dried thai chili (may substitute red pepper flakes)
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 ½ tsp sesame oil, more for drizzling
Cilantro, coarsely chopped, for serving
Basil, thinly sliced, for serving

1.     Trim bok choi and separate the green tops from the stems; leave the tops whole and thinly slice  the stems.  Peel the ginger and finely chop it. Set bok choi and ginger aside.
2.     Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package instructions. Drain and run under cool water;  drain again. Set aside.
3.     Heat 1 Tbsp peanut or sunflower oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook, breaking up with a fork, until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, 1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce and ½ Tbsp rice wine vinegar. Use a slotted spoon to transfer meat to a bowl.
4.     Add remaining 1-2 Tbsp oil to skillet. Add the mushrooms and ginger. Saute several minutes or until the mushrooms are softened. Add garlic scapes, scallions, and chile. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add bok choi stems and a pinch of salt. Cook until bok choi is almost tender, about 1-2 minutes. Toss in leaves and return pork to skillet.
5.     Toss cooked noodles, remaining ¼ cup soy sauce and 1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar in the pan. Cook until just warmed through.
6.     Add sesame seeds, sesame oil and stir to combine.
7.     Serve with fresh herbs as a garnish and an additional drizzle of toasted sesame oil as desired.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark which was featured on New York Times cooking (

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