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
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.