Recipe: Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy(炒小白菜/青江菜)

A stir fried green leafy vegetable is served at every traditional Chinese meal. Baby bok choy is easy to find and very popular. It is delicious when stir fried in the Chinese manner. Lightly flavored, crunchy, and healthy, it is paired with rice and a protein dish such as mapo tofu. Buy bok choy at an Asian supermarket because it is much cheaper and much better quality. Garlic gives a great flavor to leafy vegetables. The vegetables are always lightly flavored because they are paired with strongly flavored protein dishes like mapo tofu.

The type of bok choy used in this recipe is baby Shanghai bok choy. It has light green stems and dark green leaves. It is called by many names. In Mandarin, the name of Shanghai bok choy is usually just 青菜 which means green vegetable. In Cantonese, they usually call it 白菜 which means white vegetable. 白菜 means napa cabbage in Mandarin though. You can call it 小白菜 or small white vegetable if you like. Comment below if you want to know more about the names of this vegetable.

Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy(炒小白菜 – chao xiao bai cai – chall syall bai [rhymes with “eye”] tsai [rhymes with “eye”, NO SILENT T], “stir fried small white vegetable”, or 青江菜 qing jiang cai – tseeng dzyahng tsai, “blue/green river vegetable”, often shortened to 青菜 qing cai – “green vegetable”)

Ingredients:
8-12 cups of baby bok choy, cut each one in half (it will fit in a 2-3 quart container)
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
3 slices ginger, cut into thin slivers (optional)
2 tbsp peanut oil, corn oil, canola oil, or “vegetable oil”
1/8 tsp salt

Sauce:
1 1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese stock
1 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp white pepper powder

Directions:
1. Wash the bok choy very well, removing all sand. When no more sand, drain well, preferably using a salad spinner.
2. Combine sauce in a bowl.
3. Heat a wok until hot (a carbon steel or traditional cast iron wok- you should see one small wisp of smoke).
4. Add oil, garlic, and ginger. Stir fry 10 seconds.
5. Push aromatics up the side of the wok as you add the bok choy.
6. Sprinkle the salt, and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes until the leaves wilt and turn more dark green. They shouldn’t overcook or lose crispiness but they should not be raw either. You can set a timer to avoid overcooking.
7. Stir sauce very well, then pour into the wok. Stir fry 1 more minute to combine well.
8. Serve on a plate. Enjoy with rice and other Chinese dishes!

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10 thoughts on “Recipe: Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy(炒小白菜/青江菜)

  1. Chinese Stock is mentioned in your
    recipe for Stir-fried Bok Choy. Would
    Makes Chinese Stock different then
    any other stock. I do not believe Chinese stock is mentioned in your
    Chinese Pantry article to get an idea
    of its flavor. HAPPY 2015!!!

    1. Happy New Year! Every cuisine uses its own stocks. For example, American chicken stock is made from chicken, carrots, celery, onion, peppercorns (and other spices), or depending on recipe can be somewhat changed. American beef stock is made from browned beef bones and similar veg & spices. Meanwhile, Asian stocks are totally different. Japanese cuisine does not even use stock (stock = made from bones) but instead uses dashi made from katsuobushi (shaved dried smoked skipjack tuna fish) and dried konbu (type of kelp). Korean cuisine uses both beef bone stock (not browned), and a dashi-like broth made from dried anchovies, kelp, and sometimes other ingredients. Lastly, Chinese cuisine uses several kinds of stocks/broths too. Home cooking usually uses a simple stock made from pork bones (not browned), or sometimes from chicken. Banquet cooking uses various “superior stocks” made from chicken, duck, pork, ham, and more, then clarified. For all cuisines, the purpose of stocks/broths/dashi is more or less to add umami flavor (which is found in meat, especially bones, fish/kelp/mushrooms/vegetables). In a recipe with a tbsp or a few tbsp of “Chinese stock”, this refers to the basic pork bone stock that is commonly used in regular Chinese cooking, but can be substituted with chicken stock, or water. Water will add less umami but the dish will still taste good. Actually, in this particular recipe, it is great to skip the stock instead of adding water, because the smallest amount of liquid in the wok, the better, when stir-frying leafy vegetables. Please ask more questions if you have any. Thank you for commenting!

      1. Thank You for your very informational response.
        Superior stock would only be a
        dream for me to make but I can
        imagine (and I have imagined) what a wonder it must be to taste.

      2. Superior stock is just putting a bunch of stuff in a pot and simmering for many hours, but it uses so many kinds of meats and there isn’t much time for it in regular households. It isn’t necessary for home cooking though. Besides, these stocks are just used in tbsps for recipes, but I would still think it would be wonderful to drink. Anyways, if interested in making authentic Chinese stock (adopted from Land of Plenty): 2 lb pork bones, 1 lb chicken backs/wings/bones. Add to pot, cover with water (just covered makes richer stock, more water means less rich), boil, remove all foam. Add 2 inch long ginger crushed with knife, 2-3 green onions, simmer 3 hours or so, strain and cool. Transfer to jars, can refrigerate for a few days or freeze for a long long time. Before using, remove fat at top. I don’t remember if I already put the recipe in the mapo tofu ingredients. Homemade stock does go bad if you leave too long in the fridge, so I do recommend using store-bought if just making Chinese food once in a while. I actually don’t make my own stock (I usually have not enough time to, and when I do have time, I make something like oden). In a recipe using in the sauce, depending on amount, I use water or chicken broth made with reduced sodium Better than Bouillon chicken base.

      3. I agree with you that the time needed for superior stock is just out of the questions but I can’t help thinking of the favor,,,,,ummm.
        Your comment on Japanese now has me looking up all the types of Miso pastes. Oh so many types and flavors.
        My guess that each brand of the same pastes also have a different flavor. Have you looked up Turkish flavors or dishes?

      4. Miso! There are 2 main denominations of miso: red and white. Red miso (akamiso) is darker and white miso (shiromiso) is lighter color. Red is also saltier than white, and white has a sweeter taste. Lastly, there is mixed miso (awasemiso) which is a mix of red and white, usually 50/50. But then there are many brands, organic versions, low sodium versions, different proportions of mixed miso, no additives versions, added dashi versions, and more. (If you want miso soup without using dashi, try the added dashi version because you can just dissolve in water! However purists will want to make their own dashi, which I rarely make.) I recommend to buy just either red or white miso, or a mixed miso. More experienced Japanese cooks buy both and use either or a combination. Personally, I use white miso.
        About Turkish cuisine, I have looked up famous foods and characteristics of cuisine. However, I am not too interested in making anything at home for now. I think I will try the food in the country and then recreate some very tasty dishes back home. Turkish cuisine is one of the big, diverse cuisines like Chinese.
        I’m excited that Duolingo is making a Turkish course! Yay! First non-Indo-European language! (Indo-European is a large group of languages from English to Russian to Farsi to Hindi, that all have a common ancestor thousands and thousands of years ago. I’m not interested in learning most of the languages in it, except French, which is really boring to learn and makes me quit every time I start.) Sadly, Turkish is not out yet but will be out later. Duolingo is a language app game that is totally free. I don’t really like it too much (well probably because I’m not too interested in any of the languages in it currently). I hope it will make some Asian languages like Indonesian, which I want to learn (or Japanese although it would be too hard to learn kanji through it). There’s already English courses in a ton of Asian languages on it. The only other thing I don’t like is that the lower levels are quite tedious with vocab just “man” “woman” “child” “eat”. It doesn’t really teach survival phrases in a country, but rather boring phrases like “The child eats.” I guess it would be helpful for a school course on a language though.

      5. Thanks for the Miso lesson. I was a bit
        overwhelmed by the whole Miso display in the store. I spend too much time reading down just one store row
        that I takes a visual note the look up the
        item(s) at home.
        All I ever hope to learn are basic phrases for a tourist and hope for a good tour or tour guide to explain everything else. Hopefully there is some
        good and safe food to eat. Hope you share your thoughts on your trip. :)) looks like all I ever do is hope.
        THANKS AGAIN !!

      6. Hehe, I am excited for the trip! I look forward to seeing Turkey. When traveling though, most people know how to speak English. I usually don’t really know much of the language when I travel. I already knew extrenely basic Spanish, French when going to Europe, and that’s it. I can speak good Standard Chinese, which is spoken all over China but makes you look like a tourist in non-touristy areas like the city my grandfather lives (and does not help at understanding anything my relatives say, as Standard Chinese shares only about 50% of its vocab with Sichuanese Mandarin! It’s like Scottish English VS American English but more different.) When there is a tour guide though, you really don’t need to understand any of the local language.
        Turkish has a phonetic alphabet so each letter can only be pronounced one way. A few letters are pronounced differently than in English. I find the pronunciation much more challenging compared to Japanese and Indonesian but easier than most languages.
        You’re welcome! 🙂

    2. PS. I think the Chinese stock is found in the really old post about Mapo Tofu Ingredients. Sorry for any confusion! I will update the new Chinese Pantry post sometime when I can.

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