Friday, October 12, 2012

Vegan MoFo 10- What is Bok Choy? Pak Choy? Choy Sum? Gai Lun? Wom Bok?

You can find my post on the importance of reading labels here
What is Bok Choy? Pak Choy? Choy Sum? Gai Lun? Wom Bok?
Chinese greens, Chinese Broccoli, Chinese Cabbage. They're all part of the cabbage family and are a great way to eat your greens in a variety of ways. They all have a similar flavour but to different intensities. 
Bok Choy and Pak Choy are almost identical, bok choy being the smaller version. The stalks of these take a little longer to cook so I usually separate them and cook them first then add the leaves to wilt right at the last minute.
Chinese broccoli or Gai Lun doesn't taste like the broccoli we all know (and love) but is a more robust variety of asain green vegetable. It's commonly served in batons with oyster sauce in Chinese restaurants- you might have had it before? if not give it a go!
My favourite is Choy sum- it has a thicker stalk and milder flavour but holds up well in soups and stirfrys. Sometimes you'll find them with flowers and others not, these are edible and yummy!
You can find both English and Chinese spinach in this section too- the Chinese spinach is also sold cooked and frozen. This spinach has a slightly different flavour to English but is just as delicious.
Wom Bok or Chinese cabbage is a crisp, juicy cabbage that bears more resemblance to thin celery than the more traditional savoy cabbage. It's mild flavour and tenderness make it perfect for eating raw or lightly cooked.
Chinese celery is another yummy green you can find in this section- it tastes just like young sweet celery but it much thinner and finer than the regular variety and always used in cooked dishes.
Here's a good visual resource for Asian greens- they will look slightly different in different countries and times of the year but this gives you a good idea.
I eat Asian greens extremely regularly but I've stopped blogging them because I thought you'd get bored seeing a version of my green stirfry or soup three times a week.. so here are some oldies but goodies that use these yummy veggies.
I know some people have a problem with greens but they are SO insanely good for you and they come in so many incarnations that there has to be one you like! Have a peek at the variety at your local Asian grocer and give something new a try.
All the best,

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  1. This is a great post! Despite being familiar with most of these, I still get caught out sometimes when buying them and tend to think of some as interchangeable when they are in fact quite different. I'll be keeping this for reference :)

  2. I have tried really hard to like bok choy, to no avail. It certainly looks lovely, as do the other vegetables above! :)


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