Why It Works
- Swishing the halved bok choy in a bowl of water helps remove hidden dirt.
- Once the bok choy are cooked, they are removed to a serving platter and the braising liquid is reduced into a delicious sweet-savory glaze and spooned on top.
Simple, quick vegetable side dishes are something that most of us prepare several times a week, and for that reason, it can be easy to fall into reliable ruts: Sautéed spinach. Roasted broccoli. Wilted kale. These vegetables are all delicious, but given the incredible variety of produce most of us have access to throughout the year, it's worth thinking, every once in a while, of putting something different on the table.
Bok choy is an incredibly tasty, easy-to-prepare vegetable that many of us simply don't think to cook. But I'm here to tell you that bok choy needn't be reserved for your next stir-fry: In fact, my favorite way to prepare it is to caramelize it in hot oil and then braise it quickly in a flavorful liquid made of rice wine vinegar, dark soy sauce, and brown sugar that reduces to a beautiful glaze. The stems of the bok choy remain deliciously crisp-tender, while the leaves wilt softly, and the smooth, sweet/savory soy reduction pulls everything together.
Though the recipe relies on Asian ingredients, this dish is incredibly versatile: It's as at home next to a classic grilled steak (if you want to go the meat route) as it is alongside a mound of fluffy white rice and some fried tofu. So the next time you're racking your brain for an alternative to the same old side, think of the humble bok choy.
4 medium or 6 small bok choy
4 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
2 teaspoons grated ginger, grated on a microplane grater
2 medium garlic cloves, grated on a microplane grater (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup loosely packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon minced chives
Hot cooked rice, for serving (optional)
Soak bok choy in a large bowl of cold water, swishing to loosen any grit. Drain, cut in half lengthwise, and dry carefully with paper towels. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add halved bok choy, cut side down, working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding pan, and sear until deeply browned, about 6 minutes. Remove to a large plate or sheet pan.
Lower heat to medium and add ginger and garlic, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add water and vinegar and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping bottom of pan with a wooden spatula or spoon to loosen any browned bits. After 1 minute, add soy sauce and brown sugar. Add bok choy back to pan and cook, uncovered, until bok choy leaves are wilted and stems are crisp-tender, 6-8 minutes. Remove bok choy to serving platter.
Continue to cook liquid in pan over medium heat until it reduces to a glaze of desired consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. Spoon glaze over bok choy and garnish with sesame seeds and chives. Serve with hot cooked rice, if desired.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 10g||13%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||4%|
|Total Carbohydrate 11g||4%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 25mg||126%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|