There’s a lot to love about bok choy.
First of all, it probably has the most hilarious vegetable name…rivaled only by radicchio (ra-DEE-kyoh).
Second, you can eat bok choy in its entirety; stems and leaves alike.
And third, it is an absolute champion at soaking up and taking on the flavor of any sauce it’s put in, much like its
Crucicifictorious Cruciferous cousin broccoli.
But bok choy does have one official downside. It pretty much looks like a plate of soggy seaweed, especially when braised.
Instead of looking like the Asian-flavored, tender-crisp wonder that it is, it kind of ends up looking like the small intestines of the Jolly Green Giant. And after taking about 500 pictures, Eric and I debated: is this too ugly to put on the world wide web?
But in the end, we decided to share. Because, while truly ugly, this is a great bok choy recipe – full of flavor from a quick sear, then time spent braising in a sauce made of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger (the current love of my life). It ends up tasting like all of these things, and then gets drizzled with a glaze made of the same, topped with winners like chives, cilantro, and sesame seeds.
Plus, this recipe uses way more bok choy than you’re going to use in your average stir fry; you may even use your entire farmers market bunch, which is kind of an accomplishment.
But the fact remains that this dish is not pretty, and we’re throwing out an official food blogger challenge to see if any of you can do better. In fact, we defy the food bloggers among you out there to get this dish accepted onto Foodgawker; we’re probably not even going to try.
(recipe slightly adapted from Serious Eats )
(yields 3-4 side dish servings)
This is a super flavorful recipe that uses up a lot of bok choy. I only made a few adaptations: I used way less oil than recommended to sear the bok choy, because using the full amount had hot oil splattering all over my kitchen. And I used less vinegar because using the full amount, vinegar kind of dominated the show. Lastly, I added cilantro, because, well, yum. I recommend getting all of your ingredients cut up, lined up, and measured out before starting, so that once the bok choy is seared, your sauce can hit the ground running. The steps move quickly, so I found this preparation helpful.
4 medium or 6 small bok choy
2 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
2 tsp. ginger, finely minced
2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced OR 2/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. water
2-3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar (to taste*)
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. loosely packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp. minced chives
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
Hot cooked rice, for serving (optional)
*Start by adding 2 tbsp. of vinegar; let the sauce simmer a bit, then taste. Add more vinegar per your taste.
Soak bok choy in a large bowl of cold water, swishing to loosen any grit. Gently rinse under running water, carefully pulling apart stems to remove any remaining dirt.
Drain, cut in half lengthwise, and dry carefully with paper towels.
While your bok choy soaks, I suggest getting the rest of your ingredients completely cut, ready, and measured out. The sauce moves pretty quickly, so I found it helpful to have everything ready to throw in the pan.
Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add halved bok choy, cut side down, working in batches to avoid crowding pan, and sear until slightly browned, about 1 minute. Be careful - this splattered a lot; a splatter guard would have been helpful. Remove to a large plate or sheet pan.
Lower heat to medium and add ginger and garlic, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add water and vinegar and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping bottom of pan with a wooden spatula or spoon to loosen any browned bits. After 1 minute, add soy sauce and brown sugar. Add bok choy back to pan and cook, uncovered, until bok choy leaves are wilted and stems are tender-crisp, 6-8 minutes. Remove bok choy to serving platter.
Continue to cook liquid in pan over medium heat until it reduces to a glaze of desired consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. It will thicken a bit as it cools, so don't cook it any longer than 10 minutes. Spoon glaze over bok choy and garnish with sesame seeds, cilantro, and chives. Serve with hot cooked rice, if desired. We also served this along chicken marinated in my favorite stir fry sauce, and it was an Asian celebration.