Pak choi and bok choi

photo of pak choi

Pak choi and bok choi are types of Chinese cabbage and sometimes referred to simply as ‘Chinese cabbage’. People often seem to be confused by whether to say “pak” or “bok”.  Are they the same? In terms of texture and flavour, they are pretty much the same. But according to British celebrity greengrocer Gregg Wallace, there is a subtle difference in appearance.

Pak choi has a white stem and a green leaf, bok choi is green all over. Simple, huh?

In his book, Veg: the greengrocer’s cookbook, Wallace goes on to say that whilst most people restrict their use of bok choi to wok cooking and Oriental dishes, it’s also very good instead of cabbage in traditional Western meals. It has a lovely crunchy texture and none of the strong green cabbage flavour.

Bok choi is a brassica, which makes it a member of the cabbage family. If you have never used it, don’t be under any illusion; it tastes as much like a green cabbage as your average penguin. Botanists also tell us that it’s closely related to the turnip. Makes you wonder doesn’t it? How can bok choi be related to a turnip.”

Source: Gregg Wallace: Veg: the greengrocer’s cookbook

You can boil, steam or stir fry bok choi – it only takes a few minutes to cook.


To stir fry pak choi, rip layers from it one at a time, wash it well, chop or not.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a hot wok. Add pak choi and stir continuously for about three minutes, along with whatever else you fancy, eg vegetables, meat or fish, and noodles.

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