One of the most loved leafy greens is bok choy. Why? It is easy to prepare, cooks fast, and goes well with almost any dish.
Its mild sweet flavor makes it desirable to eat. You can cook it in several ways, from blanching to stir-frying and air-frying. Plus, you can easily find this vegetable in your local grocery store or Asian supermarket.
If you are not a bok choy expert and are planning to buy bok choy, you might find yourself confused with the different types of bok choy available. You can find short bok choy, green-colored bok choy, and large bok choy, to name a few. So, if you are wondering about the types of bok choy, you have come to the right place to learn more about them.
In this bok choy guide, you will learn about the types of bok choy and what makes them different. This article covers the different tastes, sizes, and colors of bok choy. On top of that, I share some of my delicious bok choy recipes to try for your next meal.
What Is Bok Choy?
In Chinese cuisine, bok choy is also known as spoon cabbage, pak choy, and bak choy. It is also referred to as Chinese cabbage and is included as part of the plant species, Brassica rapa. Bok choy recipes are rampant in East Asia and Southeast Asia.
What does it look like? Bok choy usually has a long thick stem and a round bulbous base. Some types of bok choy have a shorter stem, which will be further explained below.
The stems are white, but others can be light green. It is available all year round. However, the taste is usually better in the cold months.
When it comes to taste, it varies depending on the age and type of bok choy. Most bok choy types have a mild sweet taste with a bit of bitterness. It can also be described as mustard-like and comparable to spinach.
The leaves of bok choy typically have a stronger taste than the firm stems. The stems are similar to the crunch of cabbage. However, immature bok choy tend to have a softer stem than mature bok choy.
What Are The Types Of Bok Choy?
The most common types of bok choy are white bok choy, baby bok choy, Shanghai bok choy, and Tawainese bok choy. These types have slight differences in taste and appearance. Here’s what you need to know about each type.
White Bok Choy
Bok choy in its mature form is called white bok choy. This is the regular type of bok choy that has white stems and dark green crinkly leaves. The stems are crisp and firm, measuring about 10 to 14 inches in length.
This is the type of bok choy that is most commonly found in grocery stores. Similar to spinach, it has a sweet, slightly bitter, and mineral-like flavor. It has a crunchy texture like cabbage.
Dwarf Bok Choy
The immature form of white bok choy is dwarf bok choy or baby bok choy. It is shorter and stubbier than a regular bok choy. The leaves are green and curly and the stems are white. Moreover, it has a mild green and sweet taste.
In general, dwarf bok choy is three to six inches long and is typically sweeter than regular bok choy. It gives you a subtle crisp texture in every bite. Unlike a regular bok choy where you cut the base, this type of bok choy doesn’t require cutting its base since you can cook and eat it as a whole.
Shanghai Bok Choy
Unlike white bok choy and baby bok choy which have white stems, Shanghai bok choy has light green stems with green curly leaves. Shanghai bok choy is around 10 to 12 centimeters long. The leaves are oval-shaped and smoother than white bok choy.
Its length is shorter than regular bok choy.
The flavor profile is like celery and has a mild sweet taste. Its mineral-like taste is not as strong as a regular bok choy. In terms of texture, it is similar to cabbage and celery as well.
Taiwanese Bok Choy
A rarer type of bok choy is Taiwanese bok choy. The difference between Taiwanese bok choy with other types of bok choy is that it does not have a bulbous base. Moreover, it is leafier and has slender stems, which are about 20 centimeters long.
The leaves are usually light green, slightly crinkled, and oval-shaped. As for the taste, it is mildly sweet with notes of bitterness. Moreover, it is earthy and mustard-like.
Little Bok Choy
Little bok choy, xiǎo bái cài, or 小白菜, is not as common as regular bok choy or dwarf bok choy. It has green curly leaves and light green stems. Its appearance is more comparable to napa cabbage but slightly thinner and less compact.
Let’s Quickly Compare!
We can quickly differentiate the types of bok choy by their leaves, stem, size, taste, and texture. I created the table below to show a quick comparison of the four types of bok choy.
Table Of Comparison Of The Types Of Bok Choy
|White Bok Choy
|Dark green and crinkly
|White and firm
|10 to 14 inches
|Sweet, slightly bitter, and mineral-like
|Crunchy like cabbage
|Dwarf Bok Choy
|Green and curly
|White, short, and stubby
|3 to 6 inches
|Mild green and sweet taste
|Subtle crisp texture
|Shanghai Bok Choy
|Smooth, curly, green, and oval
|10 to 12 centimeters
|Mild and sweet, not mineral-like
|Crunchy like celery and cabbage
|Taiwanese Bok Choy
|Oval, slightly crinkly, and light green
|Slender, no bulbous base
|20 to 22 centimeters
|Mild and sweet, slightly bitter
|Subtle crisp texture
|Little Bok Choy
|Green curly leaves
|Light green stems
|Subtle crisp texture
Frequently Asked Questions
How to cook bok choy?
Bok choy can be blanched, stir-fried, steamed, and air-fried. For regular or white bok choy, you will have to remove the base first before cooking. Read my guide on How To Eat, Cut, Store, And Cook bok choy for more details.
Is it the same as napa cabbage?
No, bok choy is different from napa cabbage. However, they are both of the same plant species, Brassica rapa. You can learn more about the differences between the two by reading my guide here.
Are all parts of a bok choy edible?
Yes! You can eat the leaves, stems, and even the flowers if they are still attached. These parts are edible for both cooked and raw bok choy.
What recipes are best for bok choy?
Bok choy can be enjoyed in countless ways. You can cook Bok Choy With Savory Oyster Sauce or Stir-Fried Bok Choy With Mushrooms. If you have an air-fryer, try The Easiest Air Fryer Bok Choy Recipe. Don’t forget to check out my other bok choy recipes, such as Garlic Bok Choy and Blanched Bok Choy With Vegetable Sauce.
In a nutshell, bok choy is typically green with a white or light green bulbous base. However, Taiwanese bok choy is a lot slender and does not have a bulbous base. You can find regular bok choy, baby bok choy, Shanghai bok choy, and Taiwanese bok choy in supermarkets.
It is available all year round and can be eaten raw or cooked. It is the ideal green leafy side dish for a main meal. You can add it to stir-fried dishes, soups, ramen, and many more.