Glossary

Pak choi

Pak choi

Pronounce it: pak-choy

This member of the cabbage family has a number of different names, including pak choi, bok choy, horse's ear, Chinese celery cabbage and white mustard cabbage. Its structure looks like a squat celery, with either white or very pale green short, chunky stalks and glossy, deep green leaves.

The texture of both leaves and stalks is crisp, and the flavour is somewhere between mild cabbage and spinach. If very young it can be eaten raw in salads, but is best when briefly cooked.

Availability

All year round.

Choose the best

Go for pak choi with perky-looking leaves and firm, unblemished stalks. The smallest examples tend to be the most tender.

How to prepare pak choi

Wash. If you like you can cut the leaves from the stems, as they cook at different speeds - the leaves cook much quicker, so you could add just towards the end of cooking. Alternatively, if you want to put leaves and stems in the pan at the same time, cut the stems into wide strips and the leaves into finer strips. Very young pak choi can be left whole, or halved or quartered.

How to store pak choi

In a perforated bag in the fridge for up to three days.

How to cook pak choi

There are three main cooking methods:

  • Stir-fry (2 minutes)
  • Steam (sliced 2-3 minutes; whole up to 8 minutes)
  • Simmer in water (2-3 mins).

Our top pak choi recipes

1. Teriyaki salmon with sesame pak choi

Teriyaki salmon on a bed of pak choi, in a bowl

Serve stir-fried pak choi with salmon for a quick and easy midweek meal. The fish is coated in a simply irresistible, sticky sauce comprising sweet chilli, honey, sesame oil, mirin and soy.

Teriyaki salmon with sesame pak choi

2. Asian noodles with tofu, pak choi & sugar snap peas

Tofu with noodles, pak choi and sugar snap peas

This bright, colourful and healthy veggie stir-fry is packed with a wonderful array of flavours and textures. Crispy tofu pieces are marinated in a zingy mixture of ginger, garlic and sesame which infuses into the greens and vermicelli noodles. 

Asian tofu with stir-fried noodles, pak choi & sugar snap peas  

3. Steamed bass with pak choi

Sea bass and pak choi in a foil parcel, within a bamboo basket

This delicately flavoured fish and cabbage dish is steamed in a foil parcel to make it extra tender, locking in the flavours of ginger and soy.

Steamed bass with pak choi

4. Asian greens

Pak choi on a plate

Serve this simple side as part of a Chinese meal. Pak choi and other Asian vegetables are cooked in water, then drizzled with an oyster sauce dressing to give an umami hit. For another tempting side dish, try our sesame pak choi, stir-fried in groundnut and sesame oil with a hint of chilli.

5. Thai chicken soup

Chicken, noodle and pak choi broth in a bowl

Use up your roast dinner leftovers in a nourishing broth. Simmer the chicken wings and carcass to form a base, before adding in noodles, pak choi, spring onions, beansprouts and Thai-style flavours. If you have a slow cooker, you can simmer the chicken in this on low for the day.

Thai chicken soup

See our pak choi recipe collection for more ideas and read this guide on how to cook Chinese food.

Alternatives

Try cabbage or spinach.

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