What is Shanghai Bok Choy (Pak Choy)?
Shanghai Bok Choy (Pak Choy) or Shanghai Green Bok Choy (Pak Choy) is one of the most common vegetables in Chinese cuisine. It seems that American people call it Shanghai Bok Choy, while it’s often called Shanghai Pak Choy in the UK. I agree that it’s very popular in Shanghai cuisine, but we don’t normally call it like that either in China nor Japan.
When I lived in China or Hong Kong, most local people called it “Qing Cai (Mandarin)” or “Qiang Choy (Cantonese)” which literally means “green vegetables”. There is a name “Shanghai Qing (Qing means ‘green’)” as a specific word which is mainly used in the food industry.
In Japan, we call it “Qing Gen Sai” which suggests that it was imported from China, and it’s now a very popular vegetable for Japanese people too.
Shanghai Choy has a pale green round bottom and green leaves. They are in the same family with the Chinese cabbage. Their whitey bottoms are fresh, crisp and the leaves are tender. They have a mild flavour with no bitterness. They are not only used for Chinese cuisine, you can also use them in Western cuisine. You can stir-fry, steam, boil and simmer them.
How to Clean Shanghai Bok Choy (Pak Choy)?
The Shanghai Bok Choy (Pak Choy) which you have bought in a supermarket may look clean, but I recommend that you wash them properly before cooking because they often have a little soil between the leaves.
Cut a cross notch in the bottom of them and split them into 4 by hand. Carefully clean the gap of the leaves especially the bottoms with clean water.
How to Cook Shanghai Bok Choy (Pak Choy)?
When you stir-fry them, it’s better to separate the bottom parts and the green leaves. The thick bottom parts take more time before they are cooked. For a better result, you can first cook the bottom parts and then cook green leaves.
If you cook them too long, the bottom parts will lose their crispness. When you steam them, you may need to cook them for only 3-4 minutes on a medium heat.