Do you love Asian greens? Well, if you like these—and brassicas in general—you’ll be ridiculously happy with this list of 9 vegetables like bok choy. They share many of the same characteristics so that you can try them out in some of your all-time favorite recipes. Let’s dig in, shall we?
All types of broccoli taste similar to bok choy, though the textures differ significantly. This includes standard European broccoli, as well as Chinese broccoli or rapini. Although the florets are quite different from bok choy, the stems have the same grassy, bittersweet flavor we usually associate with bok choy.
Chinese broccoli has a stronger flavor than regular broccoli, but the stems are thick and meaty. Chinese broccoli is used in most Asian dishes and makes a good substitute for soups, side dishes, or stir-fries that call for bok choy.
Are you familiar with tatsoi yet? If not, please acquaint yourself with bok choy’s delicious cousin. It’s also mild and sweet and can be enjoyed both raw and cooked. Its leaves are very dark green, and it has crisp, light green or white stems. These are most delicious when cooked lightly, rather than boiled to oblivion.
Further Reading: What does Bok Choy Taste Like?
If you like tatsoi, you’re sure to love chijimisai as well. This cross between tatsoi and komatsuna has thick, velvety leaves with a slightly spicy flavor. The young plants taste like bok choy with a hint of mustard. These Asian greens are becoming more popular, though you may have difficulty finding them at a standard supermarket.
Look for them in Asian grocery stores, or try growing them yourself! Not only are these veggies delicious, they’re also surprisingly nutrient-dense. They’re packed with iron and calcium, and contain about four times as much vitamin A as an equal portion of carrots.
Asparagus doesn’t seem like it’d be a good substitute for bok choy, but it actually works quite well when you need to grill or stir-fry a tasty green. This vegetable is thick and crunchy when raw but develops a moderately firm, crispy texture when grilled or stir-fried. It has a bitter, grassy taste somewhere between bok choy and artichoke. That said, it absorbs flavors easily, which makes it adaptable for most recipes.
You won’t be able to use it to replace bok choy for every dish, but it will work with most recipes. For example, if you need a replacement for salads or soups, you’ll have to check out another vegetable on this list.
5. Yu Choy
Yu choy is another bok choy cousin, so you’ll be comfortable using it right off the bat. The branches are crisp, smooth, and pale green, with velvety oval leaves. This entire plant is edible, including the flower buds. Each part is tender yet crunchy, with a pleasant bittersweet, green flavor.
You may notice a bitter yet peppery undertone though this plant closely resembles spinach in overall flavor. Yu choy is best enjoyed raw or lightly cooked, rather than roasted or over-boiled. You can use it in salads, spring rolls, or stir-fries. Try it steamed or pan-fried in your favorite sauce.
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6. Mustard Greens
Mustard greens are often used in Asian or Asian-inspired dishes. These vegetables are also part of the Brassicaceae family, and as such are related to cabbage and kale. As you can imagine by their name, mustard greens have a peppery, spicy flavor as opposed to bok choy’s sweet mildness.
However, not all mustard greens are created equally. Some have earthier flavors, while others are hotter. Check out vibrant ultra violet mustard greens if you prefer sweeter, gentler flavors. This variety has a crunchy texture, with tender, smaller leaves. Its crispiness makes it ideal for stir-fries, grilling, or light cooking. Just be aware that it can turn mushy like spinach if overcooked, so aim to braise it lightly rather than boiling it until it’s brown.
While spinach doesn’t share bok choy’s meaty stems, it has a similar flavor and texture to the greens. Although raw spinach can have a slightly bitter flavor when raw, it sweetens exponentially when cooked. That said, if you’re aiming to use it as a bok choy substitute, you’ll probably want to keep it on the slightly raw side. This way, you can take full advantage of its crunchy stems.
When stir-fried, baked, or boiled, it’ll add both color and flavor to the dishes you’re preparing. While the texture won’t be exactly like bok choy, it will have a similar flavor. As an aside, you can always combine it with a crunchier vegetable if you want that extra crispiness. For example, water chestnuts are ideal for adding a satisfying crunch to dumplings or stir-fries.
8. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard makes a wonderful substitute for bok choy greens. Its leaves are tender and have a slightly bitter flavor, which can be reduced by cooking them. Chard leaves taste like a cross between beetroot and spinach, while their stems are sweet and crunchy like bok choy.
Swiss chard can work well as a substitute for most dishes that call for choy, albeit with a few cooking differences. For example, chard stems need to be cooked for at least 10 minutes to get the right texture, so you might have to cook them separately to get the recipe tasting right.
Related Article: What does Cabbage Taste Like?
9. Napa Cabbage
If you’ve ever eaten Napa cabbage before, you’ve probably noticed its sweet flavor and crunchy texture. This Asian vegetable looks nothing like the round European cabbages that most of us are familiar with. Instead, it resembles romaine lettuce with a thick stem and yellow-green leaves.
Napa cabbage tastes sweeter than green cabbage and is a great bok choy replacement because it won’t wilt or soften like normal varieties. Use it to replace bok choy in recipes like spring rolls, dumplings, or stir-fries.
Which of these vegetables like bok choy have you already tried? And which are at the top of your list to taste? Try to get your hands on as many as you can so you can experiment with different cooking techniques.