Bok Choy Stir Fry Recipes - Basics for Beginners


Bok choy, which translates to white vegetable in Cantonese, is the most common and readily available Chinese veggie in the United States. Although they are part of the cabbage and mustard family, they do not resemble the typical head of cabbage that you may be used to due to the leaves growing outward instead of inwards. Bok choy has green leafy tops with pale green or white bulbous bottoms depending on the variety you find. There are two popular kinds: shanghai bok choy and baby bok choy. Shanghai bok choy has a pale green stem with darker green tops. Its flavor is reminiscent of a slightly sweeter cabbage mixed with spinach. On the other hand, baby bok choy has a thicker milky white bottom with wrinkly dark green tops. The stems are crunchier with a more watered down flavor than its counterpart while the dark green leaves have an earthier flavor in comparison to shanghai bok choy. Both types can come in a wide variety of sizes. Typically you'll find larger ones in American grocery stores while you’ll find the smaller more tender varieties at Chinese grocery stores. My favorite size is the baby version as they have the sweetest flavor and better ratio of stem to leaf. 


Although both varieties of bok choy are very similar to each other, I have different ways of preparing and cooking them. In my opinion, shanghai bok choy has a similar flavor throughout its stem and leaves so I like to keep them whole and just split them lengthwise to reveal its layered cross section. I like to do a little trim at the base if it's dried up but other than that a quick stir fry with some finely chopped garlic and a pinch of salt allows for its flavor and difference in texture between the stem and leaves to shine. When it comes to baby bok choy, I prefer to cut the leaves away from the stems. Due to the leaves' dark green color and earthy flavor I prefer to use them raw in a veggie rice roll or add them last to a noodle dish for color and flavor. As for the milky white bottoms I’ll save them to add to a broth or soup because I love the crunch it lends without changing the flavor of the broth. 

Regardless of the variety of bok choy you prefer, it is important to do two things. The first is to wash them thoroughly. Due to the way they grow up from the ground they will gather soil and critters in between their leaves so I prefer to expose their stems, run them under cold water and spin them dry. The second important thing to do is to NOT overcook them. You want to cook them over very high heat in order to keep their fresh bright flavor and crunchy texture intact. Whether you choose to sear them for a stir fry or boil them in a soup, make sure to cook them hot and fast otherwise they will start to deteriorate and become mushy and bitter! Check out my recipes below and Mike G’s recipes here! 

Baby Bok Choy & Shrimp Rice Wraps 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 small purple potato, peeled and cut into fries 
  • 3 frozen shrimp tempura or your choice of protein
  • 7 - 8 baby bok choy 
  • 3 rice roll wrappers
  • 1 carrot, sliced into matchsticks  
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into matchsticks   
  • 3 green scallions tops
  • Sesame seeds, optional

Instructions: 

  1. To your oven or air fryer, add the shrimp tempura and purple sweet potato fries. Roast at 370 degrees for 7 - 8 minutes. If you potatoes need more time, just take out the tempura and continue cooking the potatoes until tender. 
  2. Next, cut the leaves off the stem of the baby bok choy. Save the bottoms for a soup or another recipe. Wash the leaves to get rid of any dirt and spin or towel dry. 
  3. Dip your rice roll wrapper in some cold water and lay down on your cutting board. Place the bok choy leaves down followed by sliced carrots, sliced cucumbers, and purple potato fries, scallions, and shrimp tempura, 
  4. Roll your rice roll tightly without ripping it. Top with sesame seeds and serve with your favorite sauce. Enjoy! 

Sauteed Shanghai Bok Choy 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound of shanghai bok choy
  • 2 tablespoons of oil  
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Sesame oil, optional

Instructions: 

  1. Start by trimming the base of the bok choy if you find that its dried up and remove any leaves that are rotting or yellowing.Then split the shanghai bok choy in half lengthwise. 
  2. Run them under water to get rid of any dirt or bugs in between the leaves. Then leave them to soak in fresh cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and spin or towel dry them. 
  3. Grab a wok or large skillet with high sides and turn the flame to high. Drizzle in some oil and once it starts to shimmer drop in the cleaned and dried bok choy. 
  4. Give them a quick toss in the oil and then cover with a lid for 1 minute. 
  5. Remove the lid and add in the minced garlic and salt. Stir to combine and cook for another minute. 
  6. Quickly remove the cooked bok choy from the pan onto a plate. Drizzle some optional sesame oil over the top and enjoy as your quick veggie side dish! 
Recipe Details
By Alex C

Senior Food Writer at Pro Home Cooks

Published