Friday, March 5, 2010

What is Bok Choy and what do I do with it?

This is a question I have asked myself many times. I do like to be somewhat creative in the kitchen but I am hesitant when I am not sure exactly what something is and when I have no idea how to prepare it. When I came across my first assignment for my Institute of Integrative Nutrition Fast Track series I realized it was time to find out.

The assignment was to cook something that you haven't before and that maybe you
were a bit nervous about. I knew that this was my chance, even better than that, my opportunity to prove to myself that I was going to learn how to cook this dark leafy green (which is all I knew about it) that baffled me.

The exact definition is as follows:
Bok Choy- noun
1. an Asian plant, Brassica rapa chinensis, of the mustard family, having a loose cluster of edible, dark-green leaves on white stalks.
2. the leaves and stalks of this plant cooked as a vegetable or eaten raw in salads.

...This didn't really help me. So I went to the recipes section in the book Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal where I found this recipe for Baby Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms that had a prep time of 8 minutes, a cook time of 8 minutes and serves 6. I was so excited to see how easy it was to do this so I got out a tiny frying pan which I learned was way to small and made a note to cook bok choy next time in the big wok that I love and seldom use. With a little encouragement from my roommate Jess and once I started cooking I realized that there was nothing to be scared of when it comes to cooking. This meal was also served with a side of the lovely grain Quinoa that you can buy at almost any store now a days but I love the Trader Joe's brand.

The exact definition of that is:

Quinoa- noun

1. a tall crop plant, Chenopodium quinoa, of the goosefoot family, cultivated in Peru and Chile for its small, ivory-colored seed, which is used as a food staple.

There were several things that I did for this dish that I've never done before:
1. buy, peel and saute an onion (my mother's shaking her head right now)
2. buy and cook with sesame oil
3. buy and prepare bok choy

With my assignment completed and my belly happy I decided to start this blog to document this and many of the other adventures I'm sure to face on my journey to becoming a holistic health coach. I hope that my clumsiness in the kitchen and elsewhere can inspire some of you to try something new and try some of those things you've always wanted to but never knew how to prepare. With the closing of each post I will make sure to include the recipe that I made. I hope you enjoy my experiences over these next 6 months!

Baby Bok Choy and Shiitakes (watch yo' mouth!)
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cooking Time: 8 minutes
Serves: 6
Originally prepared by Cara: February 23, 2010

1 small yellow onion
4 heads baby bok choy
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon tamari

  • Peel onion and slice into long, thin strips (If your eyes started to tear like mine try chewing a stick of gum while you're cutting- a tip from the wise culinary master- Marie Kossman aka my Mom)
  • Heat oil in a frying pan
  • Add onions, turn heat down and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Meanwhile, wash bok choy and slice each leaf in half
  • Thinly slice shiitakes
  • Add shitakes, bok choy, mirin and tamari to pan. Cover and cook 3 minutes
  • Spread on a flat surface to cool and stop greens from cooking
TIP: Garnish with toasted sesame seeds

Spring Out Quinoa
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 8
Originally prepared by Cara: February 23, 2010

2 cups Quinoa
31/2 cups water
1 bag peppermint tea
1 tablespoon olive oil
fresh mint, basil and cilantro

  • Wash grains. Place them in water and add peppermint tea bag
  • Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes
  • When it is done, add olive oil and lightly fluff with a fork
  • Garnish with chopped fresh herbs and serve

Eat and enjoy with friends!


Jamie said...

I love that you referred to your mom as a wise culinary master. I remember being at your house when she was making a giant pot of spaghetti sauce. She let me dip a tiny piece of bread in it, and it was the best thing I had tasted up to that point in my life! She truly is a wise culinary master, but it seems you, my friend, are following in her footsteps. :)

Cara said...

I will never compare =)

Allison said...

Love it!!

I just tackled wheat berries as a healthy (cheap) addition to my repetoire and i'm now obsessed with them. You've inspired me, i'm moving on to quinoa and bok choy.

Cara said...

Allison! How fantastic! You need to teach me a thing or two about wheat berries for sure. I'm so happy that you are able to give these new things a try. And you know what's really fun? Cooking together so maybe we can have a night soon where we get together and make a feast of things we can teach each other? I'd love it!

Maryanne said...

How did you get interested in holistic health? I wonder if you favor non animal products, too. Your brother Tim's cousin, Jennifer, is very much a vegetarian. I will mention your pursuits to her and perhaps there are a few other recipes that you two can exchange.

Your mother is one of the best cooks and your dad is a great outdoor cook (barbequer). Tim raves about the wonderful occasions with food held at your parents home in E. Northport. I use several of your mom's recipes including the penne a la vodka that your mom gave to Tami, my daughter-in-law, the cherry crown cheese cake and ambrosia.

Love, Aunt Maryanne