New, exciting food ingredients seem to pop up all the time offering great health benefits and different flavors to enjoy. Whether it’s something healthy like kale or a delicious sugary treat like donuts crossed with croissants, there are many new foods to try.
Pak choi, also known as bok choy or white mustard cabbage, is a variety of Chinese cabbage though it looks different from other cabbages. Unlike round, spherical cabbage, Pak choi has a white stem with dark green leaves. The taste of it is almost like spinach and has a mild flavor that can be used in many dishes.
You can cook it or simply enjoy it raw. With an open mind, you can include Pak choi into more of your daily meals.
Health Benefits of Pak Choi (Brassica rapa subsp. Chinensis)
There are several great benefits that can be gained from eating Pak choi. For example, it is a great addition to maintaining your bone health. Within the vegetable, there is a sizeable amount of your body’s daily requirement for phosphorous, magnesium and calcium. Phosphorous forms one of the most common minerals in our teeth and bones while magnesium is the foundation of the internal collagen that supports bone minerals.
Pak choi can also help protect your body from the development of cancer. The risk reduction happens in part because of sulfur-compounds found within the plant that prevent cancer cells from developing, adjust the metabolism to slow hormone-triggered cancers and even destroy carcinogens altogether.
Your cholesterol levels can also benefit from adding this vegetable to your diet. It has two types of fiber—soluble and insoluble. Together, the fiber works to stop cholesterol from forming within your digestive system by attaching itself to bile and fat. The added fiber will help keep your digestive processes functioning at a normal pace.
It can also help you take care of one of your most important muscles—your heart. This veggie has about 10% of your daily recommendation of vitamin B6 and folate. The calcium and magnesium found in this vegetable also help your heart muscles to relax or contract as is necessary.
How to Prepare
Preparing Pak choi is actually fairly easy to do. If you’d like to try it raw, simply cut it up and add it in with your favorite salad. It can also be steamed by itself and gets tender in less than ten minutes. It can also be added to soups or stews to add body and sweetness to the dish.
One of the most common ways to use this vegetable is in an Asian-style stir-fry with a combination of other vegetables. Do note that the leaves and stalks have different cooking times, with the leaves cooking faster. Overcooking can cause the stems to become too soft and lose their texture elements in dishes.
Choosing the right pak choi will help you create more flavorful dishes. When shopping, look for ones with white stems that are very firm and has deep green leaves attached. If you pick the Pak choi up and the leaves are wilted or limp, the flavor will not be good.
When adding to other flavors, fry or blanche it first so that it doesn’t get lost in the dish. You can also try cooking it in a broth instead of just water to infuse more flavors.
How to Grow
If you can’t find any at your local market or prefer to grow your own, you can try planting some organic Pak choi. This vegetable grows quickly and makes a nice addition to any garden. This plant enjoys cooler weather which makes the ideal time to plant either spring or autumn.
If you live in a particularly warm and sunny area, plant your seeds in a shadier spot. Avoid direct sunlight with these plants. Pak choi is particularly susceptible to many plant diseases like black rot or clubfoot. Pests like aphids, worms, and beetles are also part of the challenges when growing this plant.
Planting in rich soil, either outside or in pots, works best for it. If you choose to plant in spring and there is still a chance for a final harsh frost, the process can be started in a pot. Be sure to use soil or compost that still retains its moisture.
As they grow, thin out the seedlings so that they can develop into a stronger, robust crop. To ensure growth and development, these plants require regular watering, and ensure that you get rid of weeds around them.
Where to Buy the Seeds
Buying Pak choi seeds can be done in multiple ways. You can find them at local greenery, farm store or even a home supply store’s garden center. It can also be bought on online marketplaces like Amazon.