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Ba Choi or Bok Choi
Ba Choi is a favourite leaf used in Chinese cookery. It is notable for having very white stems, which contrast markedly from the dark green leaves. 'choi' basically means 'leaf' aka lettuce or cabbage, and Ba is Mainland Cantonese for white. Mandarin would be 'Bei' for white. Many people refer to this as 'bok choi', which is the common Hong Kong Cantonese spelling.

Ba Choi can be grown all year round in Guangdong, are very quick and easy to grow, and are one of the permanent features at nearly all wet markets and supermarkets. They are sold in clumps by weight, and comprise small plants that have perhaps eight or ten leaves in each. They are usually picked just above the root and sold the same day.

Supermarkets sell then just as clumps of leaves, but in wet markets you can find them with small yellow flowers also. These are preferred by Cantonese chef's and sought out especially.

Cantonese cook all leaves, and even Iceberg lettuce! This is related to their ideals of cleanliness, as boiling water is considered to remove all harmful things.
Prepare the leaves simply by washing under running water and breaking into individual leaves. Add the yellow flowers if present, as these are delicious also.

Cooking is very simple, with the leaves being covered with water and brought to the boil. They are then simmered for 5 minutes or less.


Instead of simply serving as a vegetable, we recommend you serve as an unusual and totally delicious soup. This is virtually the same preparation and cooking process, but this time you serve in the juice. We would add a little more water than normal, and sometimes a lot if you like it. Cook for perhaps ten or 15 minutes on a low simmer, but remove from the heat before the leaves turn into a flaccid green goo (The way English people love to massacre spinach).

They are done when the resulting liquid looks opaque and has a slightly green look about it. For western taste buds we would definitely recommend adding a little ground white pepper for a delicate flavour; or salt and black pepper for something more thrilling.
Image: Ba Choi - Click to Enlarge

Image: Ba Choi Soup - Click to Enlarge
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