Ever wondered how to make the perfect bok choy? I’ve got these simple and easy tips to help you cook your bok choy or any Chinese greens to reach optimum crunch and flavour.
Trim The Stems
Trimming the bok choy stems decreases the cooking time. It also helps you clean the bok coy from the bottom up, and separate the leaves. When you trim the stems, you only need to cut off enough to separate the leaves apart. A lot of nutrients are in the stems so be sure not to cut too much of it.
Blanching is when you semi-cook the vegetables for a very short duration through boiling or steaming. It is normally followed by placing the vegetables in freezing cold water to stop any enzyme activity.
I use this technique for cooking my bok choy because it brightens the greens and prevents me from over cooking it in the wok. It is not necessary to use this technique when cooking bok choy, but it certainly helps.
A lot of the time, the bok choy is placed directly in the wok and steam cooked. However, I notice a significant difference when I blanch my greens before I wok-fry it. The greens retain a lot of the crunch and nutrients. It also absorbs more flavour and reduces cooking time.
To blanch your bok choy perfectly, you simply need to add your greens to a boiling wok of water for 40 seconds to 1 minute. Once you notice your greens going greener and brighter, strain them out and immediately cool them under very cold water. You can dunk them in ice cold water as well.
Sauté Using a Wok
Using a big enough wok can help you cook each stem evenly. The wide edges prevents oil splattering over your kitchen stove, and makes it easy for you to maneuver your food around to different heat spots. A wok is essential for a perfect stir-fry. Each ingredient needs to be sizzled and browned to the perfect texture. A big wok gives you enough space to do just that.
Adding cornstarch to your bok choy seasoning helps coat each leaf with flavour, making each bite even and consistent in taste. You can add 1 tsp of cornstarch with 2 tbsps of water. Mix that into a slurry and add any sauce you want with that. I normally use 1 tbsp of light soy sauce and 1 tsp of Chinese dark vinegar or hoi sin sauce, depending if I want it more sweet or bitter. Sometimes I add roasted sesame sauce from Kewpie on top. That tastes amazing.
I love a simple, less salty but very garlicy green dish. What I tend to do is place pure black sesame oil into the oil, and lots of minced garlic (around 3 tbsps). Add enough oil so the garlic is shallow-frying instead of just roasting in the oil. This makes a gorgeous garlic oil and the aroma is divine. Then, add about 1 tsp of ginger, and let that sizzle in as well. I dunk the bok choy in, give it a few big stirs around the wok, then add the slurry. Finish it off with a few more big stirs around the wok and bam. You have the best bok choy stir fry in less that 5 minutes.
Above I mentioned minced garlic, but what you can also do is slice the garlic into long and thin pieces. Rather than having it disappear in your dish, the sliced garlic is prominent within the dish.
Either way, never miss out the garlic when making this. It is essential.