Friday, February 1, 2013

Ingredient 4 – Baby Bok Choy

The idea for this week's ingredient came from my parents.  Over the last year, my mom has made several positive comments about my dad's baby bok choy sautés.  I had planned on getting the recipe from him and making it for the blog, but I was in the mood for stir fry over the weekend and figured that making a stir fry would be a great way to try bok choy.

Both bok choy, Brassica chinensis, and baby bock choy are varieties of cabbage.  The mature variety has white stems and dark green leaves while the baby variety has light green steams and medium green leaves.  The stems are crisp like celery and the leaves resemble Romaine lettuce.

Bok choy has been grown in southern China for thousands for years, but its hearty nature has lead to cultivation in cooler climates, Northern Europe, the United States, and Canada.  It is used in soups, stews, stir fries, and salads. 

When selecting bok choy, look for smooth, blemish free, white steams and dark crisp greens.  Baby bok choy should have smooth, blemish free, light green steams and crisp leaves, free of yellow or brown marks.  Both varieties can be stored in the refrigerator for four to five days.

When making stir fry, I usually include as many vegetables as possible.  However, this time I decided that less would be more.  I didn't want the bok choy to feel like an afterthought.  

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Chicken and Bock Choy Stir Fry
serves 3 to 4
2 bunches baby bock choy
1lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1 package of mushrooms - I used a blend of Shitake, Crimini (Baby Bella), and Oyster. 
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp chopped ginger
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs honey
Brown or white rice – I used brown rice.

Begin by preparing the chicken breasts.  Pound them with a heavy object until they are a uniform thickness.  I placed my chicken on a dishwasher safe cutting board, covered it with cling wrap, and went to town on it with a rolling pin.  Don't be shy, the chicken is already dead, take out your pent up frustrations out on that piece of meat.  It may not be as good as therapy, but it is a damn close second in my book.   

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Next, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.  Combine the honey and the soy sauce in a shallow dish and add the chicken.  Gently turn the chicken, ensuring that all pieces are covered in the sauce.

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While the chicken is marinating, prepare the vegetables.  Trim off the bottom of the bok choy bunch so you can pull apart the leaves for washing.  Just like leeks, bock choy likely has some soil and sand between the leaves, and thus needs thorough rinsing.  I placed the separated leaves in a colander and rinsed them with cold water before laying them to dry on a paper towel.

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Once clean and dry, separate the steams from the greens and chop both sections and place in separate containers.

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Next, prepare the garlic and ginger.  Dice the garlic (2 cloves) and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin of the ginger so you can cut off a piece for dicing (2 tsp).

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I purchased a blend of pre-prepared mushrooms.  So I didn’t need to do anything to them.  But if you purchase whole mushrooms, this would be a good time to clean and slice them.

Once all your ingredients have prepared, get your wok or large sauté pan hot (medium-high heat) and add 2 tablespoons of sesame or wok oil.  Then, add half of the garlic and ginger, letting it cook until it has turned light brown, roughly two minutes.  Add the chicken and start turning it with tongs after a minute or two.  The chicken will take between 5 to 10 minutes to sauté.  Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and prepare to cook the vegetables.

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Begin by, once again, heating your wok or large sauté pan (medium-high heat) and adding 1 tablespoon of sesame or wok oil, once hot.  Then, add the rest of the garlic and ginger, letting it cook until it has turned light brown, roughly two minutes.  Add the bok choy stems and let them cook for 4 to 5 minutes, turning them frequently.

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Next, add the mushrooms to the pan, continue to turn the mixture frequently.  Once the mushrooms cook down (4 or 5 minutes), add in the bok choy greens.  Like all greens, these will cook down quickly.

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After the greens have cooked for a minute or two, add a 1/4 cup of oyster sauce to the pan.  Push the contents to the sides of the pan, creating an open space in the middle of the pan for the sauce.  Let the sauce warm for a few seconds before mixing the sauce into the ingredients.

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Once the vegetables are thoroughly coated in the sauce, add the chicken back into the pan.  Continue to mix the contents for 2 or 3 minutes, then remove from heat and serve over rice.

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This recipe came out really well, I had to call dibs on the leftovers.  The oyster sauce was wonderfully rich but not overwhelming.  The leftovers re-heated well on Tuesday when I took them to work for lunch.  I will definitely be making this again, you can count on that.  Overall grade: A-.


  1. Looks pretty tasty. I might try that on my day off but with tofu instead of chicken.

  2. That looks delicious! Your pictures are actually making me very hungry.

    I'll definitely try making it with broccoli and snap peas!

    Did the oyster sauce have a very strong flavor? Would you recommend diluting it with soy sauce and/or sesame oil?

    1. The oyster sauce is salty and a little bit sweet. It is not spicy at all. I wouldn't dilute it but you could always add less.