Scientifically classified as Brassica rapa ssp. chinensis, Pak choi is generally grouped together with a few other B. rapa subspecies referred to as “Chinese Cabbage”. Pak choi (often spelt as Bok choy, Pak choy, or Bok choi) was transliterated from the Cantonese word for “white vegetable”. Like many other Brassica plants, pak choi, is a biennial plant (a biennial plant grows vegetatively for one season and then flowers and sets fruit the following season) that is grown as an annual from seed and cultivated during its vegetative year.Gardeners who adore pak choi for its culinary uses often prefer to harvest the plant when it is small and tender (approximately 6 inches tall or shorter), yet I used larger plants for my recipe and they were still detectably delectable!
Miso Soup with Pak Choi and Tofu
1/2 Block Tofu
1 Large Head or 2 Smaller Heads Pak Choi
1/2 Cup Onion
1/2 Cup Basil
1 Medium-Sized Carrot
2 1/2- 3 Tbsp Miso Paste of Choice
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Ginger Piece Sliced Thin
1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
Approx. 1 Tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce
2-3 Cups Water
Note: Mushrooms would make an awesome addition to this dish. If you choose to use some sliced crimini mushrooms, toss them to the the cooking pan at the same time as the onions.
Combine coarsely chopped basil with peeled garlic and ginger into one bowl and set aside. Cube tofu and place cubes on a clean kitchen towel. Press tofu with towel in order to squeeze out excess moisture (this allows the tofu to fry up quicker and take-on a crispier texture). Chop of the root and the very bottom of the pak choi in order to free the leaves. Diagonally Slice each leaf (including its stalk/petiole) of pak choi into two or three pieces. The carrot can be thinly sliced with a knife or a mandolin and combined with the pak choi into a bowl separate from the other ingredients.
1. Briefly fry basil, garlic, and ginger in grapeseed oil until the basil wilts.
2. Move basil to the side of the frying pan or cooking pot to make room for tofu.
3. Add cube tofu to pan and drizzle tamari soy sauce over tofu. Cook for about one minute and allow tofu to gather up a “crust” on one side before flipping it over.
4. Add chopped onion to the pan and continue to fry tofu until golden brown on each side.
5. Add carrots and pak choi plus two Tbsp water. Cover frying pan/ soup pot with a lid and allow the vegetables to steam for one minute.
6. Add two cups of water or enough water to almost cover ingredients in the pan.
7. Allow vegetables to simmer in the water until tender.
8. Turn off the stove top burner and mix in miso paste.
9. Keep soup covered for about one minute more.
10. Gently stir soup and serve.
Final Dish Serves 2-3 Portions.
-Madeline Wimmer, WMARS Intern