Pak Choi loves to get high.
It can have ‘freckles’. Its nickname is soup spoon. If that isn’t adorable enough for you, peel back the outer layers and feast your eyes on the miniature Pak Choi at the heart of each bunch.
It’s cute, but it has a dark side. Too much (10x more than the average human would consider a daily dose, mind you) and it will give you a Glasgow kiss to the thyroid. What can I say. Like the humans I gravitate towards, I like a little complexity in my vegetables. Some contradictions and contrast to keep things interesting.
Wanna get high? Pak Choi does. It’s a fast-growing vegetable that’s perfectly suited to vertical farming. Real estate in Singapore comes at a premium so growing up, not out is looking like a viable option. There are challenges, light being the major one. There’s only so much to go around, so bok choy grown vertically matures slower than in a field or greenhouse. Locals in Singapore have praised the bok choy and Chinese cabbage grown in the greenhouse towers, stating it’s so fresh, they are happy to pay the premium price for the quality. Most of their vege is imported, impacting quality and increasing transport mileage.
The technology has several hurdles to overcome before it can come close to traditional farming methods, but I get excited whenever one of these ‘technologies of tomorrow’ pops up in the real world, especially using an ancient vegetable like bok choy (It dates to 400AD in Yangtze, China). Vertical farming today, flying cars tomorrow. Right?
Brassica rapa chinensis is a great source of Vit A, C, K and folate with a relatively low-calorie count. One cup of raw Pak Choi provides 140% of RDI of A, and 79% of C. Just be careful not to eat a kg or two raw every day; it contains an enzyme callede myrosinase which can hinder thyroid function. Cooking deactivates the enzyme, but also loses a goodly amount of the vitamin C and K in the process.
Cruciferous vegetables from the Brassica genus are the primary dietary source of glucosinolates which have an antibiotic-like effect and help ward off bacterial, viral, and fungal infection in the intestines and other parts of the body.
Pak Choi a tough nut too. Frost-resistant just like kale, Pak Choi is a cool-weather crop. This means there are still opportunities for a bounty of Pak Choi in the winter, however it doesn’t take kindly to the heat. Summer heat can turn Pak Choi stringy and bitter.
To store: Pak Choi is happy in the vege drawer, as it is for up to a week. Don’t wash Pak Choi until you’re ready to use it. The water will cause it to degrade quicker. Similarly, do not blanch or wash it before freezing. Any additional water will cause the Pak Choi to turn to mush. Wipe down with a moist cloth if you need to clean off excess dirt.
To prepare: Cut the base off, separate the stalks and check for dirt, wash in cold water. Separate the leaves and stalks if you plan to cook them, as the stalks require more cooking time.
To preserve: Pak Choi can be pickled, used in kimchi or made in sauerkraut.
-Pak Choi spoons with avo smash and spicey caramel nuts
-Shiitake and Pak Choi ramen
-Garlic and ginger marinated Pak Choi
-soba noodle salad with carrots, Pak Choi, nori and miso dressing