Although bok choy is a staple in Asian dishes, you can use it in cuisines from any number of cultures. It takes only minutes to prepare, lends itself to multiple variations, and provides a hint of crispness and a mild flavor that's reminiscent of cabbage. Choose a head of bok choy with a thick, firm white base and fresh-looking green leaves. Don't use a head whose leaves are wilting or developing brown or yellow spots.
Sauteed Bok Choy
Slice the bottom of the head so that you're left with individual stalks. You may see some white on the bottom of the stalks; these are edible and delicious. Rinse the stalks under cool water for 15 seconds to remove any clumps of dirt. Dry with paper towels or let them air dry for a few minutes.
Remove the leaves from the stems as you work on a cutting board. Cut the stems into slices. No one particular size is correct, but thin slices will cook faster than 1-inch-thick slices. Tear or cut the leaves, or leave them whole.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil or butter in a saute pan or saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add minced garlic or minced ginger, or both, if you wish.
Dump the chopped bok choy into the pan, adding the stalks first and the leaves a minute later. Following exact measurements isn't crucial, but a few cups will cook up with 1 tablespoon of oil.
Stir the bok choy constantly for a few minutes, or until the greens start to wilt.
Sprinkle the greens with soy sauce or sea salt and coarse-ground pepper.
Steamed Bok Choy
Slice off the bottom of the head of bok choy, slice into leaves and stalks, then rinse under cold, running water. Pat the pieces dry with paper towels.
Pour 1/2 cup of water or chicken broth into a saucepan. Heat it on high for a few minutes until it boils, then reduce the heat. Or, use a standard steamer set, if you have one.
Place the bok choy into a steamer basket suspended over the saucepan. Add the stalk slices first to give them more time to cook, and add the leaves 1 minute later.
Cover the steamer basket and let the bok choy steam until the leaves wilt and appear bright green, which takes about 5 minutes.
Drain any extra liquid from the steamer basket.
Season the bok choy with sea salt and coarse-ground pepper, a splash of lemon juice, or a drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil.
Oven-Roasted Bok Choy
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slice the head off and separate the stems and leaves of the bok choy. Rinse the stems and leaves under running water, then pat them dry with paper towels.
Coat a baking dish with a thin layer of olive oil.
Line the baking dish with a row of bok choy stalks. Turn the pieces a few times to coat them entirely in oil.
Sprinkle with sea salt and coarse-ground pepper.
Bake the bok choy for 5 to 6 minutes, checking it frequently. Remove it from the oven when the edges begin to crisp.
Squeeze a freshly cut lemon over the bok choy or stir the lemon into a bowl of caramelized onions.
Bok choy doesn't have to be served as a side dish. You can add its fresh greens and stalks to a saute pan, along with sliced peppers and chicken during the last few minutes of cooking. Serve the stir-fry over rice or mix with noodles; drizzle soy sauce and sesame oil over the dish for additional flavor. Add fresh greens to vegetable, chicken or mushroom soup. Let the bok choy sit in the hot soup for a few minutes before serving. Bok choy can also be eaten raw. Dunk the stalks in vegetable dips or add the leaves to a salad or sandwich. Store bok choy unwashed in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for up to a week.
Do not wash bok choy until ready for use, because it will spoil more quickly if it has gotten wet.
Kathryn Walsh has been writing about health, wellness and beauty for nearly 10 years. Her work has appeared on sites including USAToday.com, Mamapedia and Livestrong.com.