Unlike other cruciferous vegetables such as mustard greens, cauliflower or collard greens that fuse well with an array of spices and sauces, I prefer my bok choy simple. Perhaps, this has to do with how my taste buds were introduced to this slightly pungent, earthy, airy, yet, watery vegetable.
It was likely at a Sichuan or Hunan style Chinese restaurant chosen by my parents. Served piping hot from the wok to the lazy susan, atop our circular table. A simple stir-fry with a bit of garlic and dry whole red chilis. Flavorful, and not overly complicated. Using minimal ingredients when it comes to bok choy was one of my many key takeaways. Realizing a little of this or a little of that is unnecessary with vegetables that come with a flavorful personality.
When I first started making bok choy “stir-frys” for myself, these lessons learned would pop-up. In grad school, my journey with bok choy reached its pinnacle. When the food budget was low, a stocked kitchen did not exist nor a wok. Yet, my goal was to try my best to eat freshly cooked food. Even with a demanding school schedule. Healthy, fast, affordable and satisfying to my taste buds that loved variety led me to create my menu.
Living close to Kensington Market made the process pretty easy and fun. There were no shortages of fresh vegetables in this eclectic Toronto neighborhood. Quite often on the shopping list was bok choy. It was readily available, required minimal prep work, spices and the cook time made it a good choice. Served over a grain or adding the leftovers to a broth with noodles, in less than 20 minutes, dinner and next days lunch were ready.
After grad school, bok choy kinda faded away from the menu. Recently, it has returned to my spring kitchen that still lacks a wok. This time, I’ve added a little citrus twist. Happy Eating! Happy Digesting!
Roasted Sesame Oil + Ayurveda
The roasted sesame oil is what I feel makes this extra delicious. Unlike sesame oil which is a heavy, dense and warming cooking oil—a good choice for vata dosha & constitutions. Toasted sesame seed oil is lighter and drier—a good choice for spring. The oil works beautifully in salad dressing or to finish a dish. However, sauteeing with it will not produce the same results as other oils. Since roasted sesame oil lacks density and oiliness.
Citrus-y Bok Choy with Roasted Sesame Oil
servings: 4 | time: 15 minutes
Season: Winter, Spring
Qualities: Light, Moist, Clear
Tastes: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Astringent, Bitter
What you need: a heavy bottom saute pan or skillet or wok
- 4-6 baby bok choy halved or quartered lengthwise
- 11/2 T sunflower oil
- 1 sliver of fresh orange peel or 1/2 tsp of zest (1/4 tsp dry)
- 1 clove of garlic finely minced or 1 T of grated ginger (both is good too)
- 1-2 T roasted sesame oil
- juice of 1/4 to 1/2 a lemon*
- salt to taste
- black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- Halve or quarter the boy choy lengthwise and then rinse to ensure all the soil particles are removed. Set aside
- Over medium-high heat, warm the skillet or saute pan. Add the oil and let it warm-up before adding the ginger and/or garlic. Sautee for a 30-40 secs. Then add the bok choy and orange zest or peel. Stir-fry for 4-7 minutes until stalks are slightly tender but still have a crunch.
- Remove the pan from the heat, plate the bok choy, and then dress with lemon juice, toasted sesame oil, and salt. Serve immediately.
- If your pan is not large enough, cook the bok choy in batches. One way is to add the bok choy to the pan a few pieces at a time, let wilt and then add-in another batch. Continue like this until all pieces are in the pan. Continue to cook uncovered. Using this method, you might want to remove pieces you added in the first batch earlier than the others using a pair of tongs to prevent overcooking.
- Plating the bok choy helps retain the intensity of the roasted sesame oil and lemon, as bok choy can release alot of water. If adding the oil & juice to the pan, the flavor may be on the lighter side due to the release of water.
- Low-sodium tamari or soy sauce can be substituted for lemon juice if desired