It's Farmer's Market Friday, a new feature that showcases seasonal produce and recipes inspired by my weekly trips to the market. Farmers markets are pure bliss for me. Our local Wednesday market is a magical slice of a small town in the big city. We have folk singers, kids playing, a solid group of regulars and mighty fine food vendors. Community building and a shared love of local food warms my sarcastic little heart to the core. This week I was lucky to score some gigantic bok choy.
WHAT IS BOK CHOY?
Bok choy looks intimidating. It's a member of the cabbage family and has several names - pok choy, pak choi, and chinese cabbage. It's green leaves are tender while the white bulbous stems are crunchy and subtle tasting. I find it has an almost floral aroma, but maybe I'm just a bit strange. Bok choy is considered a "superfood" for its extremely nutrient dense and high in vitamin A, C and K.
HOW TO BUY + STORE BOK CHOY
When purchasing bok choy look for the crispest looking bulbs that are firm to the touch. The leaves should be green and not wilted. Bok choy lasts about a week in the refrigerator if stored in the crisper or in a perforated produce bags. Produce bags are the key to my summer vegetable success - they have an amazing ability to keep just about everything fresher for longer and can be found with the other storage bags at the grocery store. I'm fairly obsessed with them.
HOW TO COOK BOK CHOY
Bok choy has gotten a bad rap as the floppy green addition in typical greasy chinese take-out. Bok choy is so much more than that! It can be elevated to deliciousness with so little work. Stir-frying and steaming are perfectly fine methods of cooking bok choy but at this time of year the only thing I really feel like doing is grilling. I wasn't sure how the marinated bok choy would handle the heat of the grill, but it turned out great - the trimmed leaves took on a crispy roasted brussels sprout quality and the white stem maintained their crunch. I've included two marinade recipes for the bok choy and each has a sweetness that makes the bok choy caramelize on the grill nicely.
Grilling isn't the only way to include bok choy in your summer rotation. It's versatile as a raw addition to salads and slaws and could easily be swapped for the fennel in my fennel + orange slaw recipe. For more bok choy ideas check out the (mostly gluten-free or paleo-adaptable) recipe round-up from a lovely group of talented bloggers after my recipe below.
grilled bok choy - two marinades
4 bok choy, large or 6 smaller
balsamic mustard marinade
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, grated on microplane
2 tsp grainy mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh herbs - assorted, to top finished dish
maple sesame marinade
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds, to top finished dish
Preheat grill to medium heat while preparing bok choy.
Choose one of the marinades and whisk together all ingredients (except herbs or sesame seeds) in a dish large enough to hold the bok choy.
Prepare the bok choy by slicing across the bottom stem slightly, about 1/2 cm, so that only the outer leaves fall off. Cut the greens off the top so that only 2 inches are left above the end of the white part. Slice the bok choy in half and then in quarters if the bok choy are very large, being careful to keep the leaves attached to the stem. Gently rinse the bok choy. Place bok choy in the marinade for 10 minutes.
Grill the bok choy for 10 minutes at medium-low heat, turning them to cook evenly. Save the marinade to use as the sauce. The bok choy will be only slightly translucent when it is ready.
Put bok choy on a platter, topping with the remaining marinade and fresh herbs or sesame seeds.