pak choi

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Also known as

Bak Choy, Chinese cabbage.


Description

Pak choi or Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa subspecies, see below), also known as snow cabbage, is a Chinese leaf vegetable often used in Chinese cuisine. The vegetable is related to the Western cabbage, and is of the same species as the common turnip. It's commonly used in stir fry and spring rolls. Pak choi originally comes from China, but has become popular in European food, particularly in the UK, with the increase in popularity of Chinese cooking. 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.

Chopped pak choi- Wash the leaves and the stalk well. Place them on a chopping board and chop into small pieces with a chopping knife. Very young pak choy can be left whole, or halved or quartered.Chopped pak choi is usually used as a stir fry or in vegetable recipes.

Shredded pak choi- Remove the leaves from the stalk and using a sharp knife, cut the leaves into long 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick shreds or slices.This is used to prepare coleslaw salads or as a garnish or to simply reduce the cooking time.

Torn pak choi- This refers to tearing the pak choi by hand into small uneven pieces. This reduces the cooking time and also helps to retain the leafy structure, usually used for preparation that require blanching or in salads.

Sliced pak choi- Cut the stems into wide strips and the leaves into finer strips to get sliced pak choi.

How to select

Choose pak choi that has firm stalks and fresh-looking leaves. As they deteriorate, the stalks go slimy and the leaves go limp, so watch out for these signs. Choose pak choi that is held in a chilled display as this will help to ensure that it has a crunchier texture and sweeter taste. Look for leaves that are vivid green in color and that do not display any browning or yellowing. The leaves should not be wilted nor should they have tiny holes.

Culinary Uses

· The green leaf is often cooked separately to the much thicker, paler stalk.In a stir fry, cut off the stalks and slice. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the leaves for 2 minutes.
· Pak choi goes really well with ginger and garlic - which are both so-called "superfoods" and immune system boosters
· Pak choi and tofu stir fry, pak choi in winter casseroles and pak choi with grilled fish salad are popular.

How to store

Keep in the fridge for up to a week - less if possible. Don't wash before storing or it will go slimy.

Health benefits

· It's relatively easy to grow and is high in vitamin C, beta carotene, folic acid and calcium, as well as many essential minerals
· 1 cup of cooked pak choi contains 15% of your recommended daily allowance of calcium - the equivalent of 1/4 pint of full fat milk.




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