Bok Choy, Pak Choi and relatives

Brassica rapa, primarily Chinensis Group


Appears in

Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini

By Elizabeth Schneider

Published 2001

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Including seedling, Canton, Shanghai, Taiwan, choy sum types; and tatsoi and yau choy


Mild, juicy, and accessible, the closely related leafy greens collectively called bok choy are as difficult to identify by name as they are easy to eat.

Just what is bok choy? “Bok choy [is] sometimes referred to as Chinese cabbage,” writes A. Zee in his delicious cultural-culinary journey, Swallowing Clouds, raising the first problem: interchangeable names. Since both originate in China, perhaps translation will clarify? Zee then illustrates that the character “choy” (Cantonese, also romanized as “choi”) means “vegetable,” and the character “bok” (or “pak”) means “white.” There you have it: white vegetable! Add “sum” (meaning “heart”) and you see what’s needed to get you everywhere and nowhere in defining bok choy.