Joi Choi

joi-choi-mature.jpg

Joi Choi - Brassica rapa Chinensis

joi choi matureJoi Choi is a variety of bok choy, also referred to as pak choi.  I saw these adorable little plants from Kitazawa Seed Co. and couldn't resist adding them to my new garden beds.  This variety of pak choi is particularly useful in our hot area and they tend not to bolt so quickly as may other varieties.  Joi Choi, like all the others in this family are sometimes simply referred to as Chinese Cabbage and they do all in fact come originally from China.

A popular Asian green, Joi Choi has crisp, juicy stems and leaves which when cooked remain a beautiful dark green color.  Nutritionally speaking joi choi is rich in vitamins, A and C and packs a whopping 1877 mcg of beta carotene per 1 cup serving.  Even Dr. Andrew Weil includes this family of greens in his Anti Inflammatory Diet for Optimal Health.

Use the small greens as show above in raw in salads or add them at any growth stage to soups.  Both the stems and the leaves can also be braised or sauteed.  If you are sold on the merits of this vegetable then read on and learn how to grow, prepare and use it.

Storage And Preparation

If growing your own, harvest individual leaves or heads the day you will be using them.  Purchased joi choi can be placed in unsealed plastic bags and stored in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.  Don't wash the vegetable first because this will just encourage decomposition.

Preparation

Garden plants need to simply be rinsed to remove any soil adhering to the base end of the plant.  Grocery store produce should be rinsed thoroughly in cool water then spun dry in a salad spinner.

Depending on your recipe you may want to chop the thicker white stems and cook them longer than the leaves.  The raw stems are crispy and can be eaten like celery.   See recipes for preparation instructions.

Basic Cooking Instructions

Boil

Depending on the age of the joi choi you may want to chop the stems into pieces and boil those for a minute or so longer than the leaves.  Cook just until the stems are tender, drain and serve.

Steam

The process is the same as for boiling. Chop stems away, cut in smaller pieces, leaves can remain whole or chop.  Steam until stems are crisp but cooked.

Saute or Stir-fry

Small joi choi can be sauteed whole with butter or oil oil.  Then add some broth, cover and steam until cooked.  See recipes for more suggestions.  Large bock choi should have stems removed and chopped,  and given additional time to cook before leaves are added.

Joi Choi Nutrition

1/2 cup shredded , 35 grams
Calories 5
Total fat (g) 0
Saturated fat (g) 0
Monounsaturated fat (g) 0
Polyunsaturated fat (g) 0
Dietary fiber (g) 0
Protein (g) 1
Carbohydrate (g) 1
Cholesterol (mg) 0
Sodium (mg) 23

How To Grow Joi Choi

joi choi growing in raised bed

Seeds or Seedlings

You can locate seeds or seedlings from your local nursery.  A good online source for the seed is Kitazawa Seed Company.

When To Plant

You can plant joi choi from late spring to fall. 

Plant or Seed Spacing

Plant seed about 9" apart and about 3/4" deep.  Once the seeds sprout thin plants to 10" spacing.  Seedlings can be placed 10" apart.  Row spacing should be about 18" apart.

Maturity

Plants should be ready to harvest in about 40 - 50 days.

Watering

You can water plants daily using low flow drip irrigation or they can be watered well, weekly. 

Harvest

Plants can be cut off at root level if you want to harvest the whole head.  Alternately you can use small, tender leaves in salads or pull off leaves as you need them. 

author

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.