Bok choy

An annual/biennial herb growing to 1-2 feet tall with a 1-1.5 spread and tolerates frost. Grow in full sun or part shade. Partial shade can help prevent summer crops from bolting. Use well-drained, fertile soil with high in organic matter, and a pH of 6.0-7.5. It can tolerate slightly alkaline soil. Spring crops require good timing and careful pest control. Direct-seeded fall crops are easier to grow. Spring crops may bolt prematurely if young plants are exposed to frost or a week of nighttime temperatures below 50 F.

The flavour is sweet with a hint of mustard. It is used to enhance everything from soups to stir-fries and can be eaten young in salads or left to mature. Pak choi goes well with the flavours of soy sauce, hot peppers, and toasted sesame oil. It is used in won ton soup and chow mein. Young flowering stems can be used like broccoli or as a substitute for spinach.

Nutritionally, like most leafy green vegetables, it is a good source of iron. It is also high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. Not only tasty, but good for you.

Pak choi stalks can be consumed raw, or cooked. It has a high water content and becomes limp very quickly so should be cooked very quickly over high temperature so that the leaves become tender and the stalks stay crisp.

In Chinese stir-fried dishes and soups, it is added toward the end of the cooking process. Since the leaves cook much more quickly than the stalks, it’s a good idea to add the stalks first and then the leaves about a minute later. Cut the stalks into 1/2-inch (1.25cm) pieces before cooking.

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