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5 Ways To Cut Bok Choy for 5 Different Dishes

5 Ways To Cut Bok Choy for 5 Different Dishes

You may have started seeing bok choy at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. With their cluster of stalks and a thick bundle of crisp, vibrant green leaves, you may be wondering what exactly to do with these intriguing leafy veggies. 

Read on to find out how to cut bok choy and incorporate this mild, nutrient-rich green into your dishes.

What Is Bok Choy?

Bok choy has been a mainstay in Chinese cuisine for thousands of years. But what is it?

Also known as pak choi or pok choi, this leafy green vegetable is a member of the mustard family. A hardy cruciferous vegetable, bok choy is closely related to turnips, broccoli, kale, and cabbage. In fact, it is also known as Chinese cabbage. 

In terms of appearance, bok choy looks similar to celery, with a long green stem and a top that fans out into wide dark green leaves. 

All parts of the bok choy are edible, from the stalks to the leaves, making this a versatile ingredient and plant. It’s easy to incorporate into a wide range of dishes. If you haven’t cooked with bok choy, you’ve been missing out.

Why Add Bok Choy to Your Dishes?

Bok choy is a deep green veggie that will brighten up your dish with color and flavor. It has a mild, fresh, and subtly grassy taste with a hint of pepper. 

The two distinct parts of bok choy can also add a variety of textures to your meal. The stalks can add a crunchy quality, while the leaves are soft and crisp, similar to fresh spinach. 

Bok choy is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, potassium, calcium, immune-boosting vitamin C, and heart-healthy vitamin K. 

Incorporating bok choy into dishes is a simple, tasty way to boost your intake of healthy vitamins while adding a healthy splash of color and texture. It’s a feast for your eyes and a great way to snag those essential vitamins and minerals.

Which Cuisines Use Bok Choy?

Bok choy has deep roots in Asian cuisine. In fact, the discovery of 6,000-year-old bok choy seeds in China’s Yellow River Valley suggests that humans in that region have been harvesting bok choy for culinary purposes for longer than human history has been recorded.

Bok choy was introduced to America in the 19th century. Somehow, however, bok choy has only recently become popular in the States. There is no shortage of ways to enjoy this leafy green, and we are excited to see its popularity grow.

Are you interested in exploring bok choy in your own cooking? Read on for five ways to cut bok choy for a multitude of uses. 

What Are the Best Ways To Cut Bok Choy?

There are a few useful ways to cut bok choy, but first, let’s cover the basics. Choose a healthy bunch of bok choy, wash it well, and trim the stems.

Your bok choy should look crisp and vibrant, with little to no wilting leaves or brown spots. The leaves should look bright green and fresh, while the white stalks should feel firm rather than flimsy. 

Like celery, your bok choy shouldn’t bend easily or feel rubbery. If you were to break the stalk in two, it should snap with a crunch. If it doesn’t, choose a fresher one. 

Before washing the bok choy, slice off the thick base of the stalks with a sharp knife, around half an inch from the end. The cluster of stalks connects at the bottom, so trimming off the end will split the individual stalks away, allowing for a more thorough clean.

Wash the veggie under cold water, paying extra attention to the base of each stalk where dirt likes to collect. Washing or scrubbing with a vegetable brush after removing the base makes it easier to get into the nooks and crannies of each individual stem. 

You can wash the leaves in a bowl of cold water and then drain them in a colander. Remove any discolored or wilted leaves. Blot dry with a cloth or paper towel to avoid splatter when cooking in oil and help prevent your bok choy dishes from becoming overly watery.

Once separated and dried, you are ready to start chopping, slicing, or dicing.

1. Rectangular Bok Choy Slices for Stir Fries

If you're making a bok choy stir fry, cutting bok choy into rectangular pieces will help spread the veggie out and make sure it cooks and mixes well as you toss it in with your other veggies. 

This method of cutting relies only on the stems, so you can add the leaves to your meal separately or save them to use in another bok choy recipe later in the week. When cutting bok choy into rectangles, you’ll want to work with just one individual stalk at a time. 

To start, you’ll cut a single stalk in half lengthwise, moving your knife straight down the center of the stalk. Then, lay each half next to the other, flush against the cutting board. For thinner rectangles, you can cut each stalk into thirds, leaving you with three long strips on your cutting board. 

With the stems separated from the leaves, you’ll use the front part of the blade to cut across the stem halves (or thirds) horizontally, creating rectangular-shaped pieces. Hold the remainder of the stem in your claw grip, moving your non-dominant hand up with each cut to help guide the blade and keep your pieces even. 

Repeat these steps until you’ve cut each stem. You should end up with relatively even-sized pieces, about one inch long each. 

This is an ideal way to cut bok choy if you're sauteeing other veggies or proteins, as it's best for the ingredients you’re cooking together to be roughly the same size. That way, they will finish cooking at the same time.

2. Sliced Bok Choy for Soups

The stalks and leaves make great additions to soups and stews, and slicing these veggies will be the easiest way to incorporate them. Remember to separate the leaves from the stalks. Those parts of bok choy have different cooking times, and the stalks need more time to soften.

First, bunch the stalks together and slice them at the point where the leaves connect to the stalks. Since the thick white stems cook slower than the thin, bright leaves, it is best to group them separately.

Next, use your non-dominant hand to hold the bok choy stalks in a secure claw grip. This grip involved bunching the ingredient together with your hand and forming a claw with your fingers, ensuring your fingertips curl underneath your knuckles. In this position, your knuckles form a shield, protecting your fingertips as you slice. 

Hold your knife above the stalks to slice the stems at a 45-degree angle. The side of the blade should press only against the knuckles of your hand so that your fingertips have some distance. 

Rather than chopping down against the bok choy, keep the edge of your blade at a slight angle as you make a swift, slanted cut across the stem. This method helps increase each slice's surface area, which can help them cook faster.

As you slice through the stem into evenly slanted pieces, start towards the base and work your way up, moving your claw-like grip back as you go for added support and control. Each slice should be about one inch long. 

You’ll follow the same method to slice the leaves, piling them on your cutting board and holding them in a claw grip as you slice them into one-inch pieces, moving your knife from bottom to top and holding it at a 45-degree angle. 

We recommend the HexClad 8” Chef’s Knife, as the long and sharp blade can make quick work of the stem, while the pointed tip can pierce the leaves for more detailed cutting. 

3. Diced Bok Choy for Curry

Dicing a veggie involves cutting it into uniform cubes. This improves the presentation of your meal and ensures the pieces roast or saute evenly, preventing any piece from becoming undercooked or overcooked. 

If you’re dicing your bok choy, you’ll want to be more mindful of their shape and size than is typically necessary when chopping or slicing. 

First, cut the stem lengthwise into thirds. A larger knife is ideal for this task, as it can make a long cut in one smooth swoop. Start by placing the thinner front part of your blade into the top. Then, press down lightly (you shouldn’t need to exert too much force here) and slide the blade backward until the stalk is fully split. Repeat until you have three even strips.

Pro Tip: As you cut, it can help to hold the stalk with your non-cutting hand using the bridge method.

Form a bridge over the stem, with your thumb resting on one side of the stalk. Your palm should form an arch above the length of the stalk where you’ll be cutting. Carefully move the knife under the center of the bridge, and then slide the knife back towards you out from underneath your helping hand. 

This will help you hold the stem steady for more precise cutting as you carve out three evenly sliced pieces.

Next, you’ll switch to the claw method as you lay the three strips together and move your knife up the stalk to create horizontal cuts. Unlike cutting rectangles, you’ll want to cut the stem into smaller pieces when dicing, forming cubes rather than rectangles. 

As always, guide your knife up the stem with the knuckles of your claw grip, cutting each piece to be about half an inch long or even smaller if you’d prefer. 

4. Whole Bok Choy Leaves for Salads

With the plethora of nutrients and mild, peppery flavor, bok choy leaves make a great salad base that can pair well with most other ingredients. 

Green onions, uncooked crunchy ramen noodle crumbles, mandarin oranges, sunflower seeds, and sesame oil or soy sauce-based dressing are great options. You could also use these greens as an alternative to kale, spinach, or spring mix in your go-to salads if you want to try something a little different. 

After washing the leaves and separating them from the stems, dry the leaves, and use them whole or roughly shred them with a chef’s knife or kitchen sears.

5. Baby Bok Choy for Pad Thai

Baby bok choy is similar to the more mature vegetable but scaled down and slightly milder in flavor. The stems are usually short and thick, while the leaves are smaller. 

Using baby bok choy in pad thai is ideal because you can cook the veggie as is without needing to separate the leaves and the stalks, as you do with regular bok choy. It can be a simple time-saver.

How Should You Store Your Chopped Bok Choy?

Before you cut it, you should store your bok choy in an airtight plastic bag. You can use a tied plastic grocery bag with the air pushed out of it, perforating a whole or two into the bag. If unused, store it before washing to keep the vegetable from rotting. 

Moisture speeds up the decaying process, so resist washing your bok choy until you’re ready to use it. Keep in the produce drawer and use within five days. 

Once bok choy has been washed and chopped, you can store it by drying the remaining pieces completely, rolling up the leaves in fresh paper towels, and then placing the rolled-up paper towels in a plastic sandwich bag to help keep the leaves crisp.

Store the stems in a jar filled with cold water and top with an airtight lid.

How Long Will Chopped Bok Choy Keep?

When stored correctly, chopped bok choy leaves will usually keep for about three to four days. If you are storing stems in water, they have a slightly shorter shelf life. You can expect them to last about one or two days.

Luckily, with so many ways to enjoy bok choy, you can keep it interesting by planning a wide range of varying bok choy recipes for the week so you can use up all of your delicious leftovers without it feeling repetitive or boring. 

Conclusion

Bok choy is a delicious and healthy leafy green you can incorporate into your diet in a plethora of ways for an added splash of color, texture, and nutrients.

Our HexClad Chef’s Knife can help you easily slice, dice, and chop your bok choy leaves and stems into whichever shape your dish requires. With full tang construction forged from 67 layers of high-quality Japanese Damascus steel, all of our knives are well-balanced for superior control. 

Plus, with a 60 rating on the Rockwell scale, these knives are sharp enough to slice through any ingredient you need, whether it’s thick bok choy stems or hardy melons and squashes.

With the right tools in the kitchen, there is no stopping you. Whether you’re looking for sharp and eye-appealing knives to fulfill all of your cutting needs (and look good in the process) or long-lasting and versatile cookware to upgrade your kitchen in style, HexClad has your back. Happy cooking!

Sources:

What Are Cruciferous Vegetables — and Why Are They So Good for You? | Cleveland Clinic

​​Bok Choy History And Uses | Gardening Know How

Knife Handling and Safety | Ottawa Public Health

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