Very common ingredient in Asian cuisine, the pak choy It began to reach us recently through oriental and specialized stores. In recent years it has become so popular that we can now find this delicious cabbage in all kinds of shops, as it is also being grown more and more in our country. But as its curious name still raises some doubts, today we are going to learn a little more about it. pak choi and how to use it in the kitchen.
The first confusion may come precisely from its name, since it can be found with different appellations: pak choi, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, paksoi or Chinese cabbage are the most common.
It looks like a kind of chard but it’s actually a cabbage, and although when it is very young it can be eaten raw, it should be cooked briefly. It is a very versatile vegetable with a delicious flavor that combines very well with all kinds of ingredients and aromas.
Pak choi, the exotic cabbage that looks like Swiss chard
The pak choy (Brassicca rapa chinensis) belongs to the cruciferous group, among which are vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, red cabbage or turnip. Although at first glance it reminds us of chard, in reality they are therefore from different families, and also have a very peculiar and characteristic flavor. Unlike other Chinese cabbage, in its development it does not form heads but is a plant with grouped leaves similar to mustard or celery.
We can describe this cabbage as an open bud with a wide, whitish stem or trunk, not very long, with broad, fleshy leaves of more or less dark green tones. It grows in the form of a plant that does not reach more than 50 cm, depending on the variety. It is a traditional crop in Asian countries, especially China and Japan, but in recent years pak choi is also being grown in Europe with good results. In Spain, the production of Almería stands out.
To get an idea of its flavor we can taste the leaves raw, discovering some bitter notes that will remind us of endive. However, it is much richer when cooked, since becomes softer and develops sweet undertones very nice, similar to spinach. The stems take longer to cook but the combination of their crunchy point with the tender leaves is a delight on the plate.
How to cook with pak choi at home
When we take the pak choi home we can keep it in the fridge, without washing, for about three days, better in a perforated bag or directly without bagging. Before cooking, it is always a good idea to wash all the leaves and stalks well and remove any possible damaged parts, discarding only the hardest base where the stems join.
We can cut the leaves to separate them from the stalks and cook them separately, chopping them, chopping them or cutting everything into julienne strips or wide strips. To better appreciate the flavor of pak choi and not lose its rich texture, you should always try to leave it al dente, since it does not hold up well for long cooking times. Therefore, if we want to soften the stems, it is better to cook them before adding the leaves.
This cabbage can be cooked almost like any other vegetable but it is especially appreciated in quick stir fry, wok or steamed. We can add it to soups and stews always throwing the leaves at the last moment, better if it is already out of the fire, as we would do with some spinach. A very simple way to prepare pak choi is steaming the leaves for a maximum of 3 minutes and serving them with toasted sesame seeds, a little soy sauce and an aromatic oil. Hot spices also work very well, as well as other seeds and nuts.
If we are going to incorporate it into other dishes, we can blanch it in salted water or boiling broth for 1 minute, quickly transferring it to a bowl with ice. Then it is enough to sauté it over high heat for one or two more minutes. Also It is excellent as a filling for rolls, dumplings and other doughs. Similar, it goes very well with pasta or rice dishes and can be cooked on the grill cut into quarters or halves.
Like all cabbages, pak choi is rich in water fiber and vitaminsIt has very few calories and is satiating, but light and easy to digest. If you have not yet had the opportunity to try this cabbage, we encourage you to look for it in your usual establishments to experiment with it at home. Asian cuisine lovers will love it, but it will also be a real discovery for anyone who enjoys good vegetables in the kitchen.
Germisem Pak Choï Chinese Cabbage Seeds 3 g (EC3027)
Six recipes with pak choi
In Direct to the Palate we have published numerous recipes with pak choy, both those that are typical of Asian cuisine, and others more typical of traditional Spanish cuisine, in which pak choi substitutes chard or cabbage with solvency. These are:
Spaghetti with prawns, chilli and pak choi
Cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted water following the instructions on the package, leaving them al dente. Drain well, keeping a glass of the cooking water and set aside. Chop the garlic cloves, chop the washed tomatoes, remove the seeds from the chillies and chop or cut into thin slices. Cut the thick base of the pak choi, separate the leaves and wash well. Cut into small pieces and reserve aside. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan or saucepan and brown the garlic, taking care not to burn it. Add the tomato with the chillies, stir well and season lightly. Cook for about 10 minutes over low heat, crushing the tomato so that it dissolves well. Add the pak choi, pour over the wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Continue cooking for a few minutes, adding part of the water that we have reserved. When the vegetables are at the desired point, add a pinch of sugar if it is too acidic and add the cooked prawn tails. Finally add the spaghetti, mix well and add a little more of the reserved water. Add a final dash of black pepper and serve immediately.
Link to recipe | Spaghetti with prawns, chilli and pak choi
Green beans with pak choi
Ingredients for 2 people: 400 g of flat green beans, 650 g of pak choi, 1 spring onion, 50 ml of tomato sauce, 3 cloves of garlic, salt, ground black pepper, olive oil, hot or sweet paprika to taste.
Elaboration: First, wash the green beans, and cut them into longitudinal strips. Booking. In a wide saucepan with a lid, sauté the finely chopped onion and the sliced garlic cloves with a little oil. When they are well cooked, add the tomato sauce and paprika to taste (we have used two teaspoons of sweet paprika). Stir everything, add the green beans, season with salt and pepper, and renew again. Put the heat on medium power and the lid of the pot, and let the beans cook for about 5 or 6 minutes (stirring from time to time). While the beans are cooking, wash the pak choi or Chinese cabbage. Separate the leaves and reserve them, and cut the leaves into bite-size pieces. When the beans are ready, add the leaves and let them fry for two or three minutes. They should be cooked, but with bite. Once they are ready, rectify the seasoning, and add the cabbage leaves, cut into julienne strips. Turn off the heat, put the lid on, and let them cook with the residual heat from the stew. This recipe is designed so that the vegetables are almost crispy, if you like them softer, you just have to let them cook more.
Link to recipe | Green Beans with Chinese Cabbage or Pak Choi
Stir-fried pak choi with mushrooms and poached egg
Ingredients for 2 people: 2 pak choi, 300 g of wild mushrooms, 100 ml of white wine, 5 ml of rice or mandarin vinegar, 10 ml of soy sauce, white or red miso to taste, 2 eggs, black sesame seeds, granulated garlic, ground black pepper, salt and extra virgin olive oil.
Elaboration: We start by cleaning the pak choi by cutting the base of the union of the stems and separating these from the leaves. Cut into not very small pieces. Wash the mushrooms also in the case of using them fresh, gently and better using a cloth or a brush. If they are large, cut them into bite-size pieces. Heat some olive oil in a good non-stick pan or wok and sauté the pak choi stems with a pinch of salt. After a minute add the mushrooms and sauté for another minute over high heat. Add the pak choi leaves, stir and add a small splash of white wine, vinegar, soy sauce and miso. Cook the whole until the leaves are at the desired point, season with garlic and pepper to taste and add toasted black or white sesame seeds. Remove and keep warm. Cook the poached eggs in boiling water or using a plastic film bag if we do not control the technique very well, leaving the yolk semi-raw.
Link to recipe | Stir-fried pak choi with mushrooms and poached egg
Mushrooms with pak choi in oyster sauce
Ingredients for 4 people: 3 cloves of garlic, 20 g of sesame or sunflower oil, half a teaspoon of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, 300 g of chopped fresh mushrooms, 250 g of pak choi in pieces, 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds, pepper ground black.
Elaboration: Peel and chop the garlic and fry in sesame or sunflower oil. Add the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, mushrooms and pepper and fry until everything is done.
Link to recipe | Mushrooms with pak choi in oyster sauce
Bean and cod stew with pak choi and curry
Ingredients for 4 people: 4 loins of 200 g of fresh or desalted cod, 1 large pot of cooked beans, 500 ml of fish stock, 2 pak choi, 1 dessert spoon of ground curry, half an onion, half an Italian green pepper, 1 tablespoon tomato , extra virgin olive oil.
Elaboration: We start by preparing a sauce that will be the base of the stew by poaching half an onion and half a green pepper cut into small pieces. When they are soft, add a tablespoon of tomato sauce. When the sauce is ready, add the cooked white beans, well drained under the tap, and cover with fish broth, or with water and a tablet of concentrate. We cut the pakchoi separating the fleshy part or leaves, from the leaves, which we reserve for later. We steam the pencas and then we mark them on the iron. We reserve the leaves. We put the leaves in the stew and add a tablespoon of homemade curry powder, bringing to a boil. Confit the cod cut into pieces, in a saucepan with enough oil to cover the fish. We have it at a minimum for 9 minutes until visually the cod flakes are beginning to separate. Drain and put the slices of fresh cod confit in the stew, covering everything with the pakchoi leaves.
Link to recipe | Bean and cod stew with pak choi and curry
Photos | istock.com
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