As Lunar New Year continues, we are celebrating with a new spin on a classic dish. This Shanghai Bok Choy dish is an oldie but a goodie. Tender baby bok choy is cooked with earthy shiitake mushrooms in an umami packed sauce. The final dish is so beautifully plated it gets everyone excited to eat their veggies.
Traditionally, this recipe is made with dried shiitake mushrooms. But my husband really dislikes dried shiitakes and will usually eat around them when they are in a dish. He finds them funky (not in a good way!) and musty. In order to avoid having to eat all of the mushrooms myself, and leaving him with a somewhat boring plate of plain bak choy, I decided to use fresh mushrooms instead. In addition, the baby Shanghai Bok Choy caught my eye at the store so of course, I bought them. And these cute little guys cook up fast!
In my humble opinion, you can never have too many quick vegetable sides in your repertoire. They are a great way to add variety, color, and health on the table. This speedy Shanghai Bok Choy recipe is on the table in 20 minutes, so let’s get into it!
Shanghai Bok Choy
The Shanghai variety of bok choy is more mild than regular bok choy, which is the dark green and white veggie that you’ve probably all seen before. The leaves of Shanghai Bok Choy are smooth and oval shaped and it’s a more compact size. Both can be used interchangeably. Shanghai Bok Choy comes in a couple of different sizes, as you can see below, but seek out the little baby ones so you can make this adorable presentation. Added bonus? The baby ones cook super fast so you can leave them whole.
If you’re using regular sized Shanghai Bok Choy, cut them in half lengthwise before continuing with the recipe.
It Starts with Sauce
How do you get the vegetable resistant people in your life to try something new? Prepare it with an addictive sauce. This is simple to make, but the flavor is anything but. Shaoxing wine adds a complex tang, oyster sauce brings richness and thickens it up (look for vegetarian versions if you want this to be vegan), and soy sauce adds deep umami flavor. I use stock for some liquid-you can use either chicken or veggie stock. A little sugar, toasted sesame oil, and a dash of white pepper rounds it out. You can sub black pepper, but white pepper has more of an earthy funk that I love here. Everything gets a quick whisk, and then set it aside.
Prep the Veggies
Now that the sauce is ready, it’s time to clean the Shanghai bok choy. Like leeks, they can have a lot of hidden dirt and grit, so a thorough washing is essential. I soak them in a bowl of water for a couple minutes and then swish them around with my hands to make sure any dirt falls out. Do this a couple of times to be safe. Nothing is worse than biting into gritty vegetables-been there.
When you go shopping for shiitakes, you will notice several different kinds. The best are the ones that look like turtles. They have a crackly cap and a deep dark color. The best quality dried mushrooms come from these “turtle” shiitakes. The next best type are the ones I’m using today. They have thick juicy caps and have a nice flavor. Part of the joy of eating shiitakes is the “toothsomeness” which is very important, so I avoid the thin flimsy shiitakes that cook out a ton of water and shrink to nothing.
For the preparation, I just remove the tough stem. Unless they are huge, I like to leave them whole.
The slurry will make a nicely thickened sauce. Taste it and adjust for seasoning, and then pile the saucy mushrooms into the center of the Shanghai bok choy.
Don’t save this dish for the new year. Shanghai Bok Choy is a perfect side for:
Or make it a Meatless Monday meal and pair with any of these:
However you enjoy this Shanghai Bok Choy, we want to hear about it! Rate and comment on the recipe below, and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love seeing your creations!
- 1 pound baby shanghai bok choy
- 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms (about 9–10 mushrooms)
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil, divided
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
- ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon water
- 2 Tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 1 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce (or vegetarian oyster sauce)
- 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- A dash ground white pepper
- ¼ cup chicken or vegetable stock
- Combine the shaoxing wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and white pepper.
- Mix well and set aside.
- Trim the base of the shanghai bok choy if dry or dirty.
- Soak the bok choy in a large bowl of water in the sink for a minute. Then, using your hands, stir the vegetables to release any dirt or sand. Repeat this process a couple of times or as necessary, until the water is clean and there is no sand or dirt at the bottom of the bowl.
- Trim the shiitake stems and discard. Set the mushrooms aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat for several minutes. Add 1 Tablespoon of oil, 1 Tablespoon sesame oil, and half of the minced garlic.
- Stir for a couple of seconds and then add the bok choy. Stir to combine.
- Add ½ cup of chicken stock, ⅛ teaspoon of salt, and cover with a lid. Cook for 3 minutes, using chopsticks or tongs to flip them around several times to cook them evenly.
- Arrange the bok choy attractively on a platter in a ring shape, leaving the center open for the mushrooms. Drain any remaining liquid from the bok choy in the pan and return it to the stove.
- Again heat the pan over medium high heat. Add 1Tablespoon neutral oil, the remaining minced garlic, and mushrooms. Stir fry for 10 seconds.
- Stir in the sauce, lower heat to medium, cover with the lid, and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Combine the water and cornstarch, making sure it’s completely smooth, and slowly pour it into the sauce while stirring constantly. Let the mushrooms cook for an additional minute and taste the sauce. Adjust the seasoning with salt or pepper as needed.
- The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. Add a little hot water if the sauce is too thick or more cornstarch slurry if the sauce is too thin.
- Transfer the mushrooms and sauce to the center of your Shanghai bok choy ring, and serve immediately.
*I used baby shanghai bok choy which is about ½ the size of regular shanghai bok choy. I like that I can use it whole. If you are using regular shanghai bok choy, trim the base and cut it in half lengthwise before using.
*If you are using boxed stock, taste the sauce before adding any additional salt. Some commercial stocks are very salty.
Keywords: bok choy, plant based, veggie sides, shiitakes