How to cut bok choy
Learn how to cut bok choy for stir-fry, soup, salads, and more! With my easy-to-follow step-by-step photos, a short video tutorial, and my delicious bok choy Asian recipes, you’ll learn the best ways to cook bok choy with various cuts. Consider me your go-to resource for all things Chinese Vegetables!
What is bok choy
Bok choy (Mandarin pronunciation is bái cài) or Pak Choy is a member of cruciferous vegetables. Bok choy is a Cantonese pronunciation and a very general term that refers to white vegetables. The most commonly known “bok choy” Is actually called Shanghai bok choy, green bok choy, or Chingensai (pronounced chin-gen-sai) which comes with green stalks and dark green leaves.
Bok choy has two different textures in one vegetable – bok choy leaves are softer and tender whereas the white stalks are more firm and crisp. Therefore, different ways of preparing bok choy become a crucial component to ensure that these leafy greens are cooked evenly.
How to prepare bok choy will depend on –
- The size of the bok choy – large, regular/medium, or baby bok choy/dwarf bok choy.
- Types of dishes – soup, stir fries, saute, steam, blanch, or chopped bok choy for salad.
There are various ways of spelling bok choy including pak choi, boc choi, bokchoi, bak choy, bokchoy, or bakchoy.
Preparing bok choy
How to prep bok choy depends on the sizes of bok choy you plan on using. Here are some general guidelines:
- Large/big bok choy (10-11” height): best dice or chop
- Medium/regular bok choy (8-9” height): you can halve or quarter it
- Small/baby bok choy (4.5” height): simply slice bok choy in half
Let’s take a closer look at how to chop bok choy greens in various ways.
How to cut bok choy into halves or quarters
This type of cutting bok choy is best used for regular and baby-sized bok choy. The bok choy white stems and leaves stay intact.
- How to cut baby bok choy in halve: Take a whole bundle of bok choy and slice it lengthwise in one direction to halve the bok choy.
- To cut into quarters: Slice the halved bok choy lengthwise one more time to make 4 separate quarters. This is best for regular-sized bok choy.
This style of slicing is great for sauteing, stir-frying, roasting, blanching, and grilling. My bok choy stir-fry, air fryer bok choy, roasted bok choy, and baby bok choy stir-fry with shiitake are the perfect examples.
How to slice bok choy into leaves
This is another way of using bok choy. In order to separate the bok choy into leaves, often it requires trimming bok choy first.
Make a small slice at the root end. This will separate the bundle into leaves. Continue to peel the layer using your hands and make further cuts if needed. You’ll have several individual layers of bok choy that are shaped like spoons.
This uses of bok choy are great for steaming and blanching, like my steamed seafood dim sum. I recommend using medium-sized bok choy for sliced bok choy.
How to chop bok choy for salads
Can you eat bok choy raw for salads? You sure can! I have plenty of recipes sharing how to cut up bok choy for salads on the blog.
- For baby bok choy, chop it directly crosswise into small pieces.
- For regular and big bok choy, separate bok choy into leaves, stack a few leaves on top to make a little pile, then make a crosswise cut to separate the leaves and the stalks.
- Slice them further into thin strips.
How to cut bok choy for soup and ramen
This is one of the most popular questions I get all the time and I have a special trick on cooking bok choy in the soup that gives you the best result without turning into a mushy mess!
- For baby bok choy, I recommend slicing the bok choy in half.
- For medium size bok choy, quarter it or cut it into leaves.
- Large bok choy, dice it up the same way as you prepare for salads.
The best way to cook bok choy in soup is by placing them in a “standing position”. You can see how to make baby bok choy in my bok choy soup recipe.
How to wash bok choy
The dirt tends to hide between the stalks so it’s important that we get cleaning and chopping bok choy right! How to wash bok choy depends on the sizes and cuts. In general, you should cut the bok choy first then wash and clean.
- Halved and quartered bok choy, plunge them into a big bowl of water, and gently separate the stalks between the layers to rinse out the dirt.
- Chopped and diced bok choy, rinse in a bowl of water a few times until you don’t see any dirt left in the bottom of the bowl.
Always wash and clean the bok choy AFTER you cut them up. Make sure you pat them dry before cooking.
How to choose bok choy (selection and storage)
Choose bok choy with bright green leaves that aren’t wilted. The stalks should be crisp and firm with no bruising spots. The stalks could come in milk-white color or pale green, depending on the types of bok choy.
I prefer to store them in the refrigerator’s crisp drawer. Place a piece of dry paper towel in the bag and loosely close it, leaving a small open gap to allow the vegetable to breathe. It should be good for up to 4 to 5 days.
Best ways to cook bok choy
While there are many recipes with bok choy, my favorite ways are to stir-fry or saute it. Use a large skillet (or a large wok) with a wide open surface and get your pan hot before adding the vegetables. If you aren’t sure how to properly preheat a skillet, read my how to stir-fry in stainless steel pan.
If halve or quarter the bok choy, place it cut side down in the pan to sear for 2 to 3 minutes before stirring. I have a perfect recipe to show you how to cook bok choy in stir-fry.
For diced and chopped bok choy, saute the stalks first for about 2 minutes before adding the leaves. Season with coarse salt, a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, and a splash of soy sauce are all you need for a perfectly cooked bok choy.
You can cut the stalks and the leaves of the bok choy. Trim away the root end if it looks dry or tough.
The whole bok choy is edible. Bok choy stalks are crisp and have a mild flavor whereas the crinkly leaves are tender after they are cooked a little bit.
Slice the bok choy in half or quarter lengthwise for stir-fry. If using a large bok choy, dice it into bite sizes first.
Bok choy has a mild and subtle cabbage-like flavor and a slightly bitter taste. It’s full of Vitamin C.
It’s easy to figure out what to cook with bok choy, especially when you can use it in multiple ways! If you need some bok choy recipe ideas, how about chopping it up and pairing it with a delicious Thai dressing for a Thai bok choy salad side dish, add it to the main dish with my beef with oyster sauce (I use Chinese broccoli in the recipe but bok choy also works, too!), or serve it on the side with Chinese orange chicken.
- Cut bok choy based on the size so they can cook evenly.
- Baby bok choy (4.5” in height) is the favorite type in Chinese cuisine. They are the most tender.
- Always wash the bok choy after you cut it.
- Pat dry the bok choy after rinsing before stir-frying.
How to cut bok choy for cooking
- 1 head bok choy
- cutting board
- A chef's knife
Halves or quarters: (for baby and regular size bok choy)
- If using baby bok choy, slice it in half lengthwise.
- If using regular/medium size bok choy, slice it in half lengthwise then quarter it.
Cut into leaves: (suitable for regular size bok choy)
- Trim off the root end, the stalks will separate from the leaves. Use your hands to peel the layer and make further cuts if needed to separate bok choy into leaves. You’ll have several individual layers of bok choy that are shaped like spoons
Diced or strips (best for large and regular size bok choy)
- Trim off the root end, then separate the bok choy into leaves.
- For strips, stack a few leaves into a small pile and cut crosswise to separate the leaves from the stalks. Then, further chop them into small strips and thin shreds.
- To dice into small chunks, slice the leaves lengthwise then dice them crosswise for diced leaves and stalks.
To wash and clean the bok choy
- Wash and clean the bok choy by plunging it into a bowl of water several times until there’s no dirt left in the bowl. If the bok choy stalks and leaves are intact, gently separate the stalks between the layers to rinse out the dirt. Drain and pat dry before cooking.
- Always wash the bok choy AFTER your chop or dice it.
- Choose bok choy with bright green leaves that aren’t wilted. The stalks should be crisp and firm with no bruising spots.
- Store in the refrigerator’s crisp drawer. Place a piece of dry paper towel in the bag and loosely closed it, leaving a small open gap to allow the vegetable to breathe. It should be good for up to 4 to 5 days.
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