Get to Know Bok Choy—the Crunchy Cruciferous Veggie You Need to Try

This cruciferous vegetable is crisp and succulent. Here's how to cook it, plus a few of our favorite bok choy recipes to inspire you to make the most of this green vegetable.

This cruciferous vegetable is crisp and succulent. Here's how to cook it, plus a few of our favorite bok choy recipes to inspire you to make the most of this green vegetable.

In Cantonese, "bok" means "white" and "choy" means "vegetable"—but that's only part of the story. Some have more rounded leaves; some are curly or frilly. Some have light green stems. There are both dwarf and standard varieties. While the many varieties of bok choy vary in color, taste, and size, it is all essentially the same vegetable—a refreshing combination of crisp, succulent, white spoon-shaped stems topped by juicy, dark green leaves that have a touch of sweetness.

different kinds of bok choy on a white marble surface
Helen Norman

What Is Bok Choy?

Bok choy is a member of the brassica or cruciferous family of vegetables that includes cabbages, broccoli, kale, collards, mustard greens, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. It is considered a non-heading cabbage because it grows in a cluster of stems and is sometimes referred to as "Chinese cabbage" (as is napa cabbage).

Chinese Ginger Beef Stir-Fry with Baby Bok Choy being cooked in a wok

Pictured Recipe: Chinese Ginger Beef Stir-Fry with Baby Bok Choy

How To Buy Bok Choy

Choose bok choy with firm, moist, unblemished stems, and bright green leaves. Avoid wilted or bruised leaves that have yellowing or browning, holes, or tears. The term "baby bok choy" refers both to dwarf varieties and to immature versions of standard varieties. Baby bok choy has a slightly milder flavor, a tenderer texture, and a higher ratio of green leaves to stem than does mature bok choy.

Storing and Prepping

Store bok choy in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag for up to 1 week. Wash right before using.

For baby or dwarf bok choy, cut a very thin slice from the bottom of the cluster of stems. Halve lengthwise, then plunge the halves repeatedly, leaves down, into cool water until the base of the stalks is clean and free of sand and grit. Change the water if necessary.

For mature bok choy, trim a slice off the end of the base of the stems. Remove and discard any bruised or blemished leaves. Separate the stalks in a similar fashion to celery. Rinse each stalk thoroughly, checking the base of the stems, which are the most prone to retain sand and grit.

Spicy Noodles with Pork, Scallions and Bok Choy

Pictured Recipe: Spicy Noodles with Pork, Scallions & Bok Choy


One cup of cooked bok choy has 20 calories and 3 grams of fiber. This cruciferous cousin of broccoli is loaded with nutrients that help keep your skeleton strong, such as calcium, vitamin K and potassium. Swap in 2 cups of raw bok choy for lettuce in your salad and you'll rack up as much calcium as you'd get from half a glass of milk.

How To Cook With Bok Choy

Bok choy is widely used in Chinese cooking, frequently in soups, salads, stir-fries, and fillings for spring rolls, potstickers, steamed buns, and dumplings. Its mild flavor shines when it's stir-fried in sesame oil with a little garlic and ginger and a splash of soy sauce or a sprinkle of salt. Although it can be braised or stewed, it is best when exposed to a short blast of high heat—roasted, steamed, stir-fried, or stirred into the hot soup right before serving.

Overcooking destroys its fresh flavor and texture. Here are three simple methods for cooking bok choy.


Drizzle 4-halved, trimmed baby bok choy (about 1 pound) with 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil and gently toss to coat. Season lightly with coarse salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat for 4 minutes; turn and grill until lightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes more. Try drizzling grilled bok choy with soy and lime dressing.


Place 4 halved, trimmed baby bok choy (about 1 pound) in a steamer basket over simmering water. Cover and steam until the stem ends are just tender when pierced, about 6 minutes. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon melted butter and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon minced fresh chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Thinly slice 2 pounds of trimmed bok choy. Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil and toasted sesame oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the bok choy and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds.

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