Bok choy is pronounced pak or pok choi in English and literary refers to small white greens.
Bok choy or Brassica rapa chinensis belongs to Brassicaceae or the cabbage family.
It is popularly known as Chinese cabbage or Chinese chard, spoon cabbage, celery mustard, Chinese mustard, etc. The history of bok choy cultivation in China dates back to 5th century but it was first introduced in Europe and America only in 18th century.
Generally bok choy is 10 inches long and consists of 6-7 leaves. Leafy and fibrous bok choy is available in two forms: Shanghai bok choy and traditional bok choy.
Traditional bok choy is more expensive. It has dark green wrinkled leaves and white crispy stems. This kind of bok choy is stir fried, boiled or used in raw preparations, mostly in Cantonese culinary.
Shanghai bok choy may be easily available in the American markets. It has spoon shaped light green leaves and jade green stems. Shanghai bok choy is less crispy and can not be overcooked.
Fresh bok choy with green leaves and firm, crispy stalks are great ingredients in your stir fries, soups, noodles, stews, smoothies, juices, etc.
Bok Choy- Nutritional Facts
Bok choy is a highly nutritional vegetable with immense health benefits. Recent scientific data suggest that Glucosinolates compounds in bok choy has anti-cancer effects in humans.
Why Look for a Bok Choy Substitute
Bok choy is available throughout the year but it is quite expensive in U.S.A. The vegetable has a similar taste like Swiss chard, spinach, celery, etc. You can easily substitute it with these vegetables. Besides, eating a large amount of bok choy (1-1.5 kg) on a daily basis can have adverse toxic effects in the body. There are reports of having hypothyroidism and myxedema coma due to excessive consumption of raw bok choy.
Here are the best bok choy substitutes and how to use them in your dishes.
1. Napa Cabbage
Napa cabbage tops the list when you are thinking about a bok choy substitute. It is one of the varieties of Chinese cabbage just like bok choy. Napa cabbage has similar coarse, fibrous but longer green leaves.
Napa cabbage retains the crunchy and crispy texture after being cooked. This quality makes it a good substitute for bok choy. You should never boil it. Napa cabbage goes well with stir fry dishes that originally calls for bok choy.
2. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is a nutritional powerhouse. If you need a bok choy substitute you can always reach out for Swiss chard given its immense health benefits and attractive look.
Swiss chard is commonly known as perpetual spinach, seakale beet, silver beet, leaf beet,
and beet spinach.
The leafy vegetable can add bright color to your dish. It has a large green or reddish leaf blade, and white, red, or yellow stalk. Swiss chard can be a nutritional and attractive substitute for bok choy. Its taste and flavor are quite similar as well. The gourmet experts recommend to cook Swiss chard leaves and stalks separately as they have different cooking methods.
Spinach is the cheapest substitute for bok choy. The nutritional green is cultivated widely and is super nutrition for the health. Spinach has large amount of dietary fibers just like bok choy. Spinach is basically all leaves and doesn’t have the crispy texture in its small stems. When you are using spinach as an alternative to bok choy, add other vegetables such as broccoli to compensate for the crunchiness in the dish.
Spinach can be stir fried in an instant. It goes well with shrimps, tunas, in soups, and even smoothies.
Cabbage is another pocket-friendly substitute for bok choy. The vegetable is immensely popular in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean dishes. Cabbage can provide with the equal amount of nutritional values to your dishes as bok choy. Cooked or stir fried cabbage retains a churchy flavor and texture to the dishes.
5. Yu Choy
Yu choy or choy sum belongs to the mustard family and has a slight bitter taste. The green veggie has thin 3-4 leaves with yellow flowers in the middle. Yu choy makes a perfect substitute for bok choy due to its nutritional value easy cooking method. You can cook the leaves and stems together in your stir fry, noodles, soup, and other dishes. Some chefs suggest to add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the bitter taste of yu choy in your recipe.
Celery or Apium graveolens has a long stalk. It is full of fibers and other essential nutrients, vitamins A, K, C, folate, and a low amount of sodium. These nutritional benefits bring it to a promising bok choy substitute. However, many don’t like the taste of celery when replaced it with bok choy in the dishes. You can use a handful of chopped celery in your salads, sauteed vegetables, soups, stews, etc.
Bok choy is one of the popular types of Chinese cabbage. The green vegetable has versatile uses in the culinary world especially in Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean dishes.
Nutritionally bok choy is a superfood and contains essential vitamins, minerals, and fibers. The cabbage vegetable may be expensive in the U.S.A. and you can easily substitute it with vegetable such as napa cabbage, Swiss chard, spinach, yu choy, and celery. Some of these green veggies may provide with similar flavor, taste, and nutritional value of bok choy in the dishes.