How Different Is Bok Choy From Other Similar Vegetables? Shanghai Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage, And More!

If you read my guide “A Foodie’s Guide To Bok Choy”, you will know that bok choy is a green leafy vegetable commonly served in Asian restaurants. It is one of the most versatile vegetables that can be cooked in many different ways, from stir-frying to blanching and roasting.

Its mild and sweet flavors make it easy to go well with any dish and seasonings, whether sugary or salty.

Buying bok choy in grocery stores can be confusing for some as there are several versions of bok choy. Moreover, it is often confused with other similar vegetables. That is why with the help of this guide, you will learn more about the differences between bok choy and other related vegetables.

We compare the differences between each type of bok choy, including white bok choy, baby bok choy, and Shanghai bok choy.

Plus, we take a look at the comparison between napa cabbage, gai lan, yu choy sum, and bok choy. After reading this guide, you will be a certified expert on all things bok choy.

White Bok Choy Vs Baby Bok Choy Vs Shanghai Bok Choy

Bok choy is notable for its white stem, bulbous base, and long green leaves. You may notice a variation in length and color. Some have long or short stems, while others have white or green stems.

There are differences in appearance and taste because bok choy has three variations: white regular bok choy, baby bok choy, and Shanghai bok choy. These three types have different shapes, sizes, colors, and tastes. Here’s an overview of the differences between the types of bok choy.

White Bok Choy

White bok choy is the regular type and the mature one. It has white stems and dark green crinkly leaves. The stems are about 10 to 14 inches long and are more crisp and firm.

White Bok Choy

This is the most widely available type of bok choy that is commonly found in grocery stores. Its taste is similar to spinach which is sweet, slightly bitter, and mineral-like. The texture is crunchy like a cabbage.

Baby Bok Choy

Baby bok choy is short and stubby. It is typically three to six inches long and sweeter than white bok choy. Generally, it looks like the smaller version of white bok choy.

Bok Choy

Most baby bok choy recipes don’t require cutting it anymore since you can cook it as a whole with its base. Try cooking baby bok choy with my recipes Bok Choy With Savory Oyster Sauce Recipe and Delicious Blanched Bok Choy With Vegetable Sauce.

Shanghai Bok Choy

Shanghai bok choy has greenish stems that are between 10 to 12 centimeters long. The leaves are smoother than white bok choy and are curly, green, and oval. It is shorter than white bok choy and has a milder and sweeter flavor.

Bok Choy

Shanghai bok choy has a similar flavor to celery and is not mineral or green-tasting like white bok choy. The texture is also similar to celery and cabbage. Try cooking it in an air fryer using my recipe, The Easiest Air Fryer Bok Choy Recipe.

Table Of Comparison: White Bok Choy Vs Baby Bok Choy Vs Shanghai Bok Choy

Type Leaves Stem Size Taste Texture
White Bok Choy Dark green and crinkly White and firm 10 to 14 inches  Sweet, slightly bitter, and mineral-like Crunchy like cabbage
Baby Bok Choy Green curly leaves Short and stubby 3 to 6 inches Mild green and sweet taste Subtle crisp texture
Shanghai Bok Choy Smooth, curly, green, and oval Greenish 10 to 12 centimeters Mild and sweet, not mineral-like Crunchy like celery and cabbage

Pak Choi Vs Bok Choy Vs Bak Choi: Are They The Same?

You may have heard others say pak choi, bok choy, or bak choi and ask the question – Are they the same? The answer is YES. These are just different names called in different parts of the world.

Its scientific name is Brassica rapa. If you are in the UK, pak choi is commonly used. On the other hand, bok choy is more common to say in the US.

Napa Cabbage Vs Bok Choy

Napa cabbage is similar to bok choy as it is also a type of Chinese cabbage. It is a vegetable commonly used for Korean kimchi. It has oblong green leaves that are lighter in color than bok choy.

The overall shape is oblong and the taste is mild and slightly sweet and peppery. Its size ranges between 12 to 18 inches. Generally, cooking napa cabbage is faster than cooking bok choy.

Yu Choy Sum Vs Bok Choy

Yu choy sum is a Chinese flowering cabbage with small green leaves and thinner green stalks. It does not have a bulbous base like bok choy. The taste is sweet with a hint of bitterness and the texture is firm and crunchy.

You may also know this vegetable as yu choy, choy sum, and yao choy. Similar to flowering bok choy, the yellow flowers of yu choy sum are also edible. If you want to taste yu choy sum, cook it with my recipe Quick & Easy Yu Choy Sum.

Gai Lan Vs Bok Choy

Gai lan is often referred to as Chinese broccoli. It is a dark-green vegetable with long narrow stalks and thinner leaves than bok choy. It looks more similar to yu choy sum because of its leaves and stems.

The stem has a similar taste and texture to regular broccoli, which is sweet and crisp. However, it is the glossy leaves that are bitter and earthy.

To Sum Up

You now know that bok choy or pak choi has three common variations: white bok choy, Shanghai bok choy, and baby bok choy. These generally have green leaves and white or light green stalks with a bulbous bottom. The taste can be sweet with a slight bitterness to it and has a crunch similar to cabbage.

Have a hearty meal of bok choy today with any of my quick and easy recipes. Watch me cook bok choy through tutorial videos on Instagram and Tiktok.

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