Pak Choy

 

Wong Baak

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Botanical Name:Brassica rapa
Family: Cruciferae
Genus: Brassica
Synonyms: Brassica parachinensis – L.H.Bailey.
Known Hazards: None known

Common Names:bok choy, pak choi, choi sum, Chinese white cabbage, Chinese flowering cabbage, Peking cabbage, celery cabbage, and white mustard cabbage.
Nomenclature
In Mandarin Chinese bai cai ( “white vegetable”) refers to both groups of B. rapa. However, the English word bok choy and its variations bok choi and pak choi are derived from the Cantonese cognate, which instead denotes one specific variety of cabbage, namely those with white stems and dark green leaves. The other varieties all have different names which entered the English language as you choy, choy sum, napa and baby bok choy, etc. Hence the English word bok choy (and its Cantonese source) is not equivalent to the Mandarin word bai cai, though the Chinese characters are the same.

Description:
Pak Choy have gloss, dark green leaves with long, large white petioles. They are generally called Full Size White Pak Choy in the markets. These varieties grow best in mild and slightly cold climates, suitable for fall crops. They may go into the pre-matured flowering in heat conditions. Pak Choy is used extensively in Cantonese cooking. Many varieties can grow up to 20 inches high.

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A type of Chinese vegetable of the mustard family. It has dark green leaves and white celery-like stalks that have a mild, slightly peppery flavor. Both the greens and the stalks are popular in salads and the stalks are often used in stir-fry recipes.Pak Choy is available throughout the year. When selecting, look for a firm compact head with fresh leaves. The cabbage should be used when fresh if possible because it does not store well. If it is necessary to store, keep it in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic, and it should stay fresh for 4 to 5 days.

Cultivation details:
Succeeds in full sun in a well-drained fertile preferably alkaline soil. Prefers a pH of 5.5 to 7. Prefers a cool moist reasonably fertile soil. The plant is shallow rooted and intolerant of drought, it responds well to a moist fertile soil but succeeds in poorer soils than standard Pak choi. Hardy to about -10°c, the plants stand up well to snow but are less likely to stand up to prolonged winter wet. The prostrate forms are hardier than semi-prostrate forms. The rosette pak choi is widely cultivated in China for its edible leaves, there are several named varieties. It is slower-growing than standard Pak choi, B. rapa chinensis.

choy seeds are extremely small, so difficult to handle when sowing. Pak choy can either be sown direct in the row and thinned to an appropriate spacing, or transplanted 15 to 30 days, depending on the variety, after seeding. Transplanting may reduce bolting, especially during summer. The soil should be well prepared so that the beds are raised with good drainage and air circulation.

Within row spacing varies from 2.5 to 10 cm for the smallest varieties and up to 45 cm for the largest. Spacing between rows varies between 15 and 30 cm. Do not sow seeds deeper than 2 cm below the surface.

Pak choy is a shallow-rooted crop and requires frequent watering. Apply light irrigations to avoid leaching. Outdoor plants can be protected by film covers in winter and shading net in summer. Do not apply large amounts of nitrogen to soil as this may increase the incidence of bacterial soft rots in pak choy.

Harvesting:
Pak choy are usually harvested by hand, cut off at the base 35 to 55 days after sowing. Pak choy should always be picked when leaves are fresh and crisp, and before the outer leaves turn yellow. Remove any dead or damaged leaves, trim the base flush with the first petiole and wash the plant. Harvest during a cooler part of the day. Yields are usually about 15 tonne per hectare. Market prices are highest for green, turgid produce.

Uses:
Pak choy is a vegetable which has been cultivated in China for thousands of years. In addition to being widely used in Chinese cuisine, pak choy or “white vegetable” is very popular in other parts of Asia as well. Many English speakers know pak choy as bok choy or pak choi, thanks to disagreement about how the Chinese word for this vegetable should be transliterated. Whatever you call it, pak choy is a very versatile, tender, flavorful vegetable which can be used in a wide assortment of dishes.

This vegetable is also sometimes called “Chinese cabbage,” a reference to the fact that it is classified in the Brassica genus, to which cabbages belong. Brassicas are also members of the mustard family, and they have a distinctive tangy, somewhat spicy flavor as a result. Brassica chinensis, as pak choy is more formally known, comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors, thanks to the development of specific cultivars.

Classic pak choy has white, crunchy stems and dark green leaves, both of which are edible. In China, the smaller the vegetable is, the more favorably it is viewed, because small pak choy plants tend to be more tender. Outside of China, some cooks seek out larger versions, as they are under the impression that bigger is better, but if you can obtain smaller vegetables, you may find that they are much more tasty; many markets sell young pak choy as “baby pak choy,” and it is growing easier to find. Big pak choy bunches tend to be woody and lacking in flavor.

Tender young pak choy only needs to be cooked very briefly, and the leaves take even less time to cook than the stems. Most cooks separate leaves and stems, throwing the leaves into a dish at the last minute to lightly wilt them before serving. The stalks can be allowed to cook a bit longer than the leaves, although many people favor a brief cooking time to leave the stalks crunchy and tender, rather than allowing them to soften.

Many cooks like to use pak choy in stir fries, and it can also be used in soups, curries, spring rolls, and a variety of other dishes. The flavor of pak choy is very mild, with a hint of a tangy bite which betrays its place in the mustard family, and this vegetable is also very healthy. It is high in calcium, like other Brassicas, and it also has high levels of vitamins A and C.
Click to see:->Pak Choy cooking Terms

Resources:
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-pak-choy.htm
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Brassica+rapa+parachinensis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bok_choy
http://www2.dpi.qld.gov.au/horticulture/5300.html
http://www.evergreenseeds.com/larleafpetty.html

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