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Recipe for bok choy stir-fry with ginger and garlic


When I'm lucky enough to get to an Asian market (the closest is nearly 20 miles away), I steer my cart right to the produce aisles to stock up on things the grocery store in my village doesn't carry: choy sum, lemongrass, fresh bean sprouts, and my favorite baby bok choy, a miniature Chinese cabbage. You can make this stir-fry with grown-up bok choy, by trimming the head through the root into smaller wedges, but if you can find the babies, you'll love the sweeter flavor and more delicate texture. Choose heads with either white or a pale green stalks; the taste is the same, so buy whichever color coordinates with the rest of your dinner. This recipe utilizes one of my lazy-girl techniques for wok cooking: pan steaming, the same method used to make potstickers. Rather than blanching the bok choy in a separate pot, I stir-fry in the wok, then toss in a small amount of water and slap a lid on to catch the steam. The tender baby bok choy heads cook quickly this way, while absorbing the flavors of the sauce -- and I only have to wash one pan.


Bok choy stir-fry with ginger and garlic

From the pantry, you'll need: ginger root, garlic, sesame oil, reduced-sodium soy sauce, cornstarch or arrowroot, sesame seeds.

Serves 4.


4 heads of baby bok choy, white or green
1-1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp grated ginger root
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot
Sesame seeds (black, white, or a mix) for garnish


Cut the baby bok choy in half lengthwise, leaving the root attached, to make 8 pieces. Trim the leaves as needed to neaten them, but don't remove all of the leafy tops.

Heat a wok over low heat. When the wok is hot, add the sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, to allow the ginger and garlic to infuse the oil. Add the soy sauce, and then the bok choy.

Toss the bok choy in the sauce briefly, then add 1/4 cup of water to the wok. Immediately slap a cover on it (I use the lid of a large soup pot), to allow the bok choy to steam. Keep the cover on for 2 minutes.

While the bok choy is steaming, stir together the cornstarch (or arrowroot) and 2 teaspoons of water in a small measuring cup.

Remove the pan cover and stick a sharp knife into the root end of one of the pieces of bok choy. If it's just tender, it's ready; if not, add 2 teaspoons of water, cover, and cook for 1 more minute. Toss the bok choy again in the sauce, then add the cornstarch mixture. Stir until the sauce is lightly thickened and well distributed.

Serve immediately, garnished with sesame seeds.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Steamed baby bok choy with spicy hoisin glaze
Tofu, bok choy and portobello mushroom fried rice
Shrimp potstickers
Sweet potato and apple potstickers
Vegetable dumplings

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Gingery sauteed tat-soi with tofu steaks, from Food Blogga
Chicken bok choy, from Andrea Meyers
Restaurant-style Chinese greens with oyster sauce, from Rasa Malaysia
Baby bok choy with braised shiitake sauce, from Appetite for China
Bok choy in coconut milk, from Hooked on Heat

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I grab baby bok choy anytime I can find it!

Beautiful photo! As I always say, real food is just so gorgeous. Love this simple recipe and your combo of flavors, Lydia!

I'm going to save this for the summer. We get a lot of bok choy at the farm, and I always prepare it in a stir fry, but this highlights the bok choy as the main ingredient so nicely.

I've been making your hoisin recipe; recently made the bok choy from Steamy Kitchen, very similar to this. Cooks Illustrated did one of their exhaustive accounts with some good points. Anyway I make it, it's good, and easy too!

Pam, I do, too. I wish my local supermarket would carry it, as they do sell regular bok choy now.

Shirley, thank you. I think these little bok choy are so sensuous.

TW, how lucky you are that your CSA grows bok choy!

Susan, bok choy is one of those vegetables that needs very little interference from us to taste delicious.

Whole Foods carries baby bok choy, too! But of course, it's cheaper at the Asian market.

That looks delicious! I'm sorry you're so far from an Asian market. I know how lucky I am living in San Francisco, you can't swing a bok choy without hitting 5 different ethinc markets.

It's so inexpensive at the Asian market compared to the other markets I shop at, too. Only .69/lb. if you can believe it. This dish sounds wonderful, Lydia. Perfect for lunch or dinner.

Anne-Marie, the nearest Whole Foods is right near the nearest Asian market, about 20 miles away. I have a lot more fun shopping at Asian markets, and the turnover means that vegetables are super-fresh.

EB, it's the one thing I miss about living full-time in Boston. We lived walking distance to Chinatown, Latino markets, and great Middle Eastern markets. Sigh.

Kellypea, I believe it! I buy the large bags of baby bok choy, maybe 12 heads in a bag, for less than a dollar.

And we've got fresh bok choy at our local farmers' market too. Mmm....

I adore baby bok choy, it's perfect for stir frying! I need to perfect growing it in our garden.

We love bok choy-my husband loves saying the word and I enjoy eating it:)

Susan, I'm green with envy. I wish we had the growing climate of Southern California.

Andrea, how wonderful it must be to have your own home-grown bok choy!

Maria, somehow when I hear people pronounce it in the Chinese grocery, it doesn't sound quite the same as the way we say it, but I agree, the taste is wonderful in any language.

I love bok choy. I buy a big bag practically every week during the winter time when local produce is almost non existent. It's so easy to prepare. Your photo is beautiful Lydia!

Jeanette, thank you -- I love how pretty these little bok choy look, too. I buy a big bag whenever I get to the market. It's always a treat.

We recently moved and there are two (!) Asian markets within a few miles from our house. I used to do just like you, make monthly trips to 99 Ranch Market and stock on my rare ingredients, but now I can go several times a week if I want to. We are so easy to entertain and satisfy, aren't we?
I love bok choi, but my husband does not (grrrr!) I make it as a side dish to avoid his grumbling, as I don't have an intention of going without for his sake.
I like your method of pan-steaming and will bookmark this recipe.

Great simplicity and I love the black and white sesame seeds - very New Year's "black tie" I think!
I will be looking out for this veggie in the stores!

Oh, I like this.... I'm really starting to crave greens!


I smiled when you said the Asian store was 20 miles away! Any food market is that distance from me, and fortunately the mainstream supermarket has baby bok choy. To get to a large Asian market is a 2 hour trip, and prices and freshness are superior. (I have on good authority that nothing in RI is more than a 1/2 hour drive!)
Still, others must have much farther to go. I should think that any recipe for bok choy could be made with good ol' green cabbage, in a pinch. Actually, might be delicious!

I got some bok choy in my community basket this weekend and didn't know what to do with it yet. Thanks, I'm going to try this recipe tonight!

I usually grow bok choy. It's surprisingly easy but my vegan wolf dog pulls it out and eats the tender tops! Anyways, got some in the organic box and used this recipe. So good! Used liquid aminos instead of soy sauce. Never would know the difference.

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