A good bok choy recipe can be difficult to find. Too often bok choy recipes disguise the leafy green vegetable in heavy sauces or combine it with other, more strongly flavored vegetables so that bok choy’s unique, if subtle, characteristics are lost in the final dish. When bok choy first becomes available, usually in the early spring but often in autumn as well, I prefer a recipe in which it is dressed simply and served on its own, without the addition of other vegetables. In this way, the cruciferous vegetable with its pale, elongated stalk and broad, verdant leaves can shine on its own – though paired with other subtle flavors which complement its sweet and slightly peppery undertones without competing against them.
My favorite bok choy recipe combines miso, ginger, fish sauce and sesame seeds in a gentle glaze that seasons the vegetable without overpowering its subtle flavors. Unlike many leafy green vegetables, bok choy is relatively low in oxalates – a compound with a strong chelating effect that contributes to kidney stones. Though the effects of oxalic acid extend far beyond kidney stones, indeed some evidence indicates they may play a role in vulvodynia and chronic fatigue syndrome; moreover, evidence indicates that autistic children experience improvement in their condition once dietary oxalates were limited1. Fortunately, oxalates are easily mitigated by light cooking which is why leafy greens and other vegetables high in oxalates, such as beets, should be cooked prior to serving. A healthy intestinal tract fed on probiotic supplements and foods may also help to mitigate the effects of oxalate2, 3.
Bok choy is also a powerfully nutritive vegetable – rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K1, folate, potassium and calcium4. While miso, a naturally fermented soy food, is a good source of vitamin K2, a nutrient associated with reduced cancer risk5, and manganese4. Fish sauce, a traditional accompaniment to many Thai dishes, also contributes trace minerals in including magnesium as well as B vitamins to this bok choy recipe4.
Bok Choy with Miso-glaze and Sesame Seeds
For a more visually attractive effect, instead of chopping the bok choy, serve it whole – elongated stems, broad leaves and all. It can be cut and served at the table
- 2 tablespoons white or yellow miso paste
- ½ cup dashi, fish stock or Asian-inspired chicken feet stock (homemade preferred)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons pastured lard or unrefined virgin coconut oil
- 1-inch knob of ginger (peeled)
- 1 bunch bok choy (rinsed and patted dry)
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- Dissolve two tablespoons white or yellow miso paste into ½ cup warm dashi, fish or chicken stock until clumps of miso have been thoroughly combined with the stock, and the mixture is smooth and thinly velvet-like in texture. Stir in one to two teaspoons fish sauce and set the mixture aside.
- Heat two tablespoons pastured lard or unrefined virgin coconut oil in a skillet over a medium flame until melted and sizzling.
- Julienne the freshly peeled ginger by cutting it into thin matchsticks and toss these into the hot fat, gently stirring until the ginger perfumes the fat with its bright and vibrant fragrance.
- Add a whole, intact bunch of bok choy to the seasoned fat and fry on one side for one to two minutes until the bok choy begins to blister slightly, then turn it over to the other side and continue to cook for amother one to two minutes.
- Pour the mixture of stock and miso over the bok choy, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover.
- Simmer for six to eight minutes or until the bok choy wilts and is pierced easily by the tines of a fork.
- Plate the cooked bok choy and any remaining juices, then sprinkle one to two tablespoons sesame seeds over the dish before serving right away
1. Shaw. The Role of Oxalate in Autism and Chronic Disorders. Wise Traditions. Winter 2010. 2. Okombo et al. Probiotic-induced reduction of gastrointestinal oxalate absorption in health subjects. Urological Research. March 2010. 3. Ferraz et al. Effects of lactobacillus casei and bifidobacterium breve on urinary oxalate excretion in nephrolithiasis patients. Urological Research. April 2009. 4. NutritionData.com 5.Nimptsch et al. Dietary vitamin K intake in relation to cancer incidence and mortality. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. March 2010.