What Is Baby Bok Choy: Bok Choy Vs. Baby Bok Choy


By: Amy Grant

Bok choy (Brassica rapa), variously known as pak choi, pak choy, or bok choi, is an extremely nutrient rich Asian green most commonly used in stir fries, but what is baby bok choy? Are bok choy and baby bok choy the same? Are there different ways to use bok choy vs. baby bok choy? Read on to find out about growing baby bok choy and other baby bok choy information.

What is Baby Bok Choy?

A cool season vegetable, baby bok choy forms smaller heads than the taller bok choy varietals, about half the size of standard bok choy. Pretty much any variety of bok choy can be grown as baby bok choy but some types, like “Shanghai,” are bred specifically to be harvested at their diminutive height for maximum sweetness.

Bok Choy vs. Baby Bok Choy Plants

So yes, bok choy and baby bok choy are basically the same. The real difference is in the smaller leaves and even earlier harvest of these tender leaves. Because the leaves are small and tender, they have a sweeter flavor than that of full sized bok choy and can be used in place of other greens in salads. Standard sized bok choy tends to have more of a mustard twang to it too.

Both full sized and baby bok choy are low in calories, chock full of Vitamin A and C, and rich in antioxidants and fiber.

Baby Bok Choy Growing Information

Both types of bok choy are rapid growers, with baby maturing in about 40 days and full sized bok choy in about 50. It grows best in the cool, shorter days of fall and the early spring.

Prepare a sunny area in the garden for planting in the early spring or fall. Work in an inch (2.5 cm.) of compost into the top 6 inches (15 cm.) of soil. Smooth out the soil with a garden rake.

Directly sow the seeds 2 inches (5 cm.) apart and ¼ inch (.6 cm.) deep. Water the seeds in well and keep the seeded area moist.

Seedlings should appear in about a week and should be thinned to between 4-6 inches (10-15 cm.) apart when they are a few inches (7.5 cm.) tall.

Fertilize the baby bok choy 3 weeks after sowing. Keep the planting area consistently moist and free of weeds.

Baby bok choy is ready to harvest when it is about 6 inches (15 cm.) in height. Cut the entire head off just above soil level for dwarf varieties or for full sized varieties, remove outer leaves and allow the rest of the plant to grow to maturity.

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Bok Choy with Garlic and Peanut

Ingredients

  • 2 heads baby bok choy or 2 large stalks bok choy
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon finely ground peanut (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash, dry, and cut the bok choy stems and leaves into age-appropriate pieces. If baby is younger than 12 months you may want to tear the leaves off of the white, light green ribs and mince those while keeping the firm rib whole. For toddlers, finely chop the whole bok choy.
  2. Steam the bok choy on the stovetop or in the microwave until soft, between 3 and 6 minutes depending on size.
  3. Peel and mince the garlic while the bok choy steams.
  4. Warm the oil in a skillet set on medium heat. When it shimmers, add the garlic and stir to coat. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat.
  5. Transfer the bok choy to the skillet and stir to coat in the garlic oil.
  6. Drizzle the lemon juice over the bok choy and stir to coat. Sprinkle finely ground peanut on top.
  7. Cool to room temperature before serving.
  8. Serve: Scoop the bok choy into baby’s bowl. Let baby self-feed by scooping with hands and trying to pick up the food. If baby needs help, pass a pre-loaded utensil or a piece of food in the air for baby to grab from you.

To Store: Cooked bok choy keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 days. It can also be stored in the freezer for up to 10 months, although the greens soften to a mushy texture over time.

This recipe contains a common allergen: peanut. Only serve to your child after this allergen has been safely introduced.

Flavor Pairings

Bok choy tastes mildly sweet with just a hint of mustardy bitterness—a taste that becomes more pronounced as the plant matures and grows larger. Play up the sweet-tart flavor by serving bok choy with fellow vegetables like acorn squash, bell pepper, broccoli, butternut squash, carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, green beans, parsnip, pumpkin, rutabaga, snap pea, snow pea, sweet potato, or turnip. Take advantage of the vitamin C within bok choy by serving the leafy greens alongside hearty meat and fish like arctic char, beef, bison, chicken, salmon, shrimp, or trout or iron-rich plants like chickpea, edamame, kidney bean, or lentils. Bok choy soaks up flavor and nutrients from the food in which it is cooked, so try cooking with different liquids or oils like coconut milk, mushroom stock, peanut oil, or sesame oil. Season the greens with bold aromatics like chives, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, ramps, and scallion, or Sichuan peppercorn. And add a squeeze of lemon, lime, or your favorite citrus to add brightness!

Reviewed by:

Kimberly Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT

Sakina Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

Rachel Ruiz, MD Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist



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