Bok Choy Substitutes That Deserve Some Love And Attention

Bok Choy Substitute

Need some bok choy substitutes? Green vegetables are an essential part of our diet and veggies like bok choy present a lot of nutrition. This beautiful vegetable is from the cabbage family, or more specifically, the Chinese cabbage family. That gives us a lot of room to use some very interesting and viable substitutes. 

Replacing simple ingredients is usually a tough job. But thanks to bok choy belonging to a larger family of edible plants, many substitutions become simpler. In fact, for those of us who live in the west, it might be easier to come across a substitute rather than the original vegetable.

This is partly due to the fact that bok choy is popular in Asian cuisine and not as popular in western recipes.

Bok choy is known by several names, including pak choi and pok choi. Whether you’re looking for pak choi or its substitutes, remember that vegetables taste best when fresh.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the best options for substitutes.

Top Bok Choy Substitutes To Look At

1. Cabbage

As we know, bok choy is a type of cabbage. So, it’s no surprise that the conventional, humble cabbage can replace the more exotic bok choy. Cabbage is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, so its use is very much in play. 

Use it without worry. The flavor or texture of bok choy won’t detract from the original. Plus, the use of cabbage is familiar or welcome for several recipes.

2. Napa Cabbage

Also known as Chinese cabbage, napa cabbage could perhaps slip as a doppelganger of bok choy. Or perhaps its stockier sibling. This one too has long green leaves that stay crisp even after being cooked, thus adding to the taste and texture of a recipe. 

Feel free to use napa cabbage for pretty much any recipe that calls for bok choy. 

3. Spinach And Baby Spinach

Here’s something else to try if you don’t want your options to be limited to cabbage types. The large leaves of spinach can adequately perform the culinary duties of bok choy, plus they’re fully packed with nutrition. Perhaps Popeye oversold it a bit, but the fact remains that this is quite a nutritious veggie.

Employ spinach or baby spinach as your choice of replacement if you need one. Spinach works great as an option, while baby spinach is often a good baby bok choy substitute.

4. Swiss Chard

The green leaves of Swiss chard look very interesting with the backdrop of their red stem. When using it as a substitute, you can consider removing the red stem and focussing on the leafy greens. It’s possible to use Swiss chard as a substitute in pretty much all recipes for bok choy. Showing off its red stem in salads could make the look more interesting. 

Swiss chard has a tender bitter taste that’s quite similar to bok choy. However, this taste gets muted and milder as the leaf is cooked. It often gets touches of sweetness after cooking, like spinach. 

5. Yu Choy

Yu Choy is another leafy veggie, which while different from bok choy in shape, matches it quite well in taste. Its leaves, stem, and even its yellow flowers are edible. Yu choy and bok choy plants are related, so there is a similarity in taste between these two. 

You can expect yu choy leaves to have some bitterness with peppery undertones. As with similar plants, the bitterness diminishes once the leaves are cooked.

6. Nan Ling

Nan Ling, also known as Chinese Celery, is another plant that can satisfactorily replace bok choy in most recipes. Its appearance is something similar to cilantro, though the flavor lies somewhere between celery and bok choy.

7. Red Cabbage

Red cabbage fits into the equation because it is a cabbage and has an inherent similarity to bok choy. The notable difference between using this and conventional (white) cabbage is the color. If you’re okay with the color that red cabbage brings, it can work as a decent substitute.

8. Gai Lan

Gai Lan is also known as Chinese broccoli. The name comes from this vegetable having a similar, although stronger flavor than broccoli. Its stem takes on the texture of broccoli and the leaves present an excellent taste.

When using this as a substitute, remember that gai lan has stronger flavors, so use less of it as compared to bok choy in a recipe.

9. Mustard Greens

The leafy mustard greens are somewhat related to the bok choy plant. Well, they at least have similar touches of flavor. You can work with mustard greens in plenty of recipes, especially those that involve stir frying or braising.

10. Amaranth Greens

We best know the amaranth plant for its flour, though the leaves too are edible and enjoyable! The leafy greens are quite similar to spinach in texture and offer a good flavor to the recipe. They’re best used for salads and toppings. 

11. Celery

Conventional celery finds a lot of room in cooking and matching flavors with bok choy. Its mild taste makes it a good choice, plus it’s versatile enough to work with most recipes. While you could sauté or cook it for use, my preference lies in using celery for salads and toppings. 

12. Leek

Leek is an interesting option. Though not a naturally aligned replacement for bok choy, this green vegetable can be an adequate replacement. The leaf sheaths, sometimes called the stem, work remarkably well as replacements for bok choy. Since leek is related to the onion family, it evokes a taste similar to mild onions. 

The delicate and sweet touch it brings is quite enjoyable in recipes, especially salads. While leek will work as a replacement, remember that it won’t bring in the same flavors as bok choy. It offers an entirely different, yet acceptable flavor to the recipe.

13. Broccoli

As we know, gai lan (Chinese broccoli) can provide an adequate use as a substitute, and so does conventional broccoli. This famous and healthy plant is incredibly versatile and lends itself well to many cooking requirements. And yes, that includes being a good substitute for bok choy.

Broccoli has hints of a grassy taste and bitterness. While the flavor is different, it’s still very similar to bok choy and can be a decent replacement. 

14. Kale

Another famous and healthy food, Kale with its leafy greens gets quite a bit of attention. Kale is full of nutrients and works well whether eaten raw or after cooking. It’s very versatile too and goes along with plenty of ingredients and recipes. You could use kale to substitute for bok choy in almost all recipes. 

15. Tatsoi

Tatsoi is a bit of a rarity and isn’t as well known. However, this Asian plant is remarkably similar to bok choy. Although, the plant is seeing increased popularity globally. Its big green leaves and crisp white stems evoke a texture and mouthfeel quite similar to bok choy. So, it has flavor, texture, and mouthfeel handled for its use as a substitute.

Flavors are an interesting part of tatsoi. It has bitter notes with touches of sweetness and mustard flavor. As with similar leafy vegetables, the bitterness tones down when these leaves are cooked.

FAQs And More On Bok Choy

How To Prepare Bok Choy For Cooking?

Ideally, you want to chop bok choy before you start cooking it. Chop it carefully and then be sure to thoroughly wash it to remove any dirt or mud in the plant. The stalk of the plant is thick and has several layers. That’s a good place for dirt or other contaminants to hide. However, this problem goes away once you cut the stalk. Put the (chopped) bok choy in a large bowl of water and wash it thoroughly before cooking.

Baby bok choy is simpler to deal with. It is practically the same as bok choy, just harvested earlier. To clean this veggie, simply cut it into quarters and wash it thoroughly in a large bowl with water.

What Part Of Bok Choy Is Good To Eat?

The whole bok choy plant is edible. Enjoy the leaves, stalk, or bulb – they’re all good to eat and can be enjoyed cooked or raw. Some people like to remove the tougher inner part of the bulb, though that’s entirely a preference and not a necessity.

Is It Okay To Add Bok Choy To Ramen?

It’s a fantastic idea to add bok choy to ramen. You’d make it taste better and be healthier at the same time! Adding bok choy to ramen requires a few steps. Start with separating the leaves and stem (stalk) of bok choy. The leaves can go straight into the ramen. However, it is a good idea to cook the bok choy stem for a while before adding it to the ramen. 

Making The Best Of Bok Choy And Its Substitutes

Are you in a fix and need quick bok choy substitutes? The list here provides several healthy and easily available options that will make things simpler for you. While bok choy is a delicious and healthy veggie, it may not be available everywhere. Try these options if you’re in one of the places where this vegetable is a rarity or need a quick fix for a recipe.

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