- Chinese cabbage
Brassica rapa chinensis, called "bok choy" in the United States
Details Species Brassica rapa Cultivar group Chinensis, Pekinensis groups Origin China, before the 15th Century Cultivar group members many, see text
- The images shown on this page are of the chinensis variety or "bok choy." For images of the pekinensis variety, see Napa cabbage.
Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa, subspecies pekinensis and chinensis) can refer to two distinct varieties (see below) of Chinese leaf vegetables used often in Chinese cuisine. These vegetables are both related to the Western cabbage, and are of the same species as the common turnip. Both have many variations in name, spelling and scientific classification–especially the "bok choy" or chinensis variety.
The Ming Dynasty pharmacologist Li Shizhen studied the Chinese cabbage[ambiguous] for its medicinal qualities. Before this time the Chinese cabbage was largely confined to the Yangtze River Delta region. The Chinese cabbage as it is known today is very similar to a variant cultivated in Zhejiang around the 14th century. During the following centuries, it became popular in northern China and the northern harvest soon exceeded the southern one. Northern cabbages were exported along the Grand Canal of China to Zhejiang and as far south as Guangdong.
They were introduced to Korea, where it became the staple vegetable for making kimchi. In the early 20th century, it was taken to Japan by returning soldiers who had fought in China during the Russo-Japanese War. At present, the Chinese cabbage is quite commonly found in markets throughout the world.
Bok Choy Chinese name Chinese 白菜 (小白菜) Transcriptions Mandarin - Hanyu Pinyin báicài Min - Hokkien POJ be̍h-chhài or pe̍h-chhài Wu - Romanization tsching tsae 青菜 Cantonese (Yue) - Jyutping baak9 coi5 Korean name Hangul 배추 Transcriptions - Revised
baechu Napa Cabbage Chinese name Chinese 大白菜 Transcriptions Mandarin - Hanyu Pinyin dàbáicài Min - Hokkien POJ pe̍h-chhài Alternative Chinese name Chinese 黃芽白 Transcriptions Mandarin - Hanyu Pinyin huángyábái Cantonese (Yue) - Jyutping wong4 ngaa4 baak9 Korean name Hangul 배추
There are two distinctly different groups of Brassica rapa used as leaf vegetables in China, and a wide range of varieties within these two groups. The binomial name B. campestris is also used.
This group is the more common of the two, especially outside Asia; names such as napa cabbage, dà báicài (Chinese: 大白菜 lit. "large white vegetable"); Baguio pechay or pechay wombok (Tagalog); Chinese white cabbage; baechu (Korean), wongbok and hakusai (Japanese: 白菜) usually refer to members of this group. Pekinensis cabbages have broad green leaves with white petioles, tightly wrapped in a cylindrical formation and usually forming a compact head. As the group name indicates, this is particularly popular in northern China around Beijing (Peking).
Chinensis varieties do not form heads; instead, they have smooth, dark green leaf blades forming a cluster reminiscent of mustard or celery. Chinensis varieties are popular in southern China and Southeast Asia. Being winter-hardy, they are increasingly grown in Northern Europe. This group was originally classified as its own species under the name B. chinensis by Linnaeus.
Chinensis spelling and naming variations
Other than the ambiguous term "Chinese cabbage," the most widely used name in North America for the chinensis variety is bok choy (from Cantonese, literally "white vegetable"; also spelled pak choi, bok choi, and pak choy). In the UK, Australia, South Africa, and other Commonwealth Nations, the term pak choi is used. Less commonly, the descriptive English names Chinese chard, Chinese mustard, celery mustard, and spoon cabbage are also employed.
In Australia, the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries has redefined many of these names to refer to specific cultivars. In addition, they have introduced the word buk choy to refer to a specific kind of cabbage distinct from pak choy.
In China, three terms are commonly used for this vegetable: the vast majority of Chinese (about 500 million) speak Mandarin, and for them the term is 油菜 yóu cài (literally "oil vegetable"), since most of the cooking oil in China is extracted from the seed of this plant; Shanghainese speakers (about 90 million in eastern China) use the term 青菜 qīng cài (literally "blue-green vegetable"); although the term 白菜 is pronounced "baak choi" in Cantonese, the same characters are pronounced "bái cài" by Mandarin speakers and used as the name for Napa cabbage which they call "Chinese cabbage" when speaking English.
Commercial variants of Chinensis
- Pak choi (Chinese: 白菜; literally "white vegetable"); succulent, white stems with dark green leaves.
- Choy sum (Chinese: 菜心; pinyin: càixīn; literally "vegetable heart"; Hokkien chai sim), this brassica refers to a small, delicate version of Pak choi. In appearance it is more similar to rapini or broccoli rabe, than the typical Pak choi. In English, it can also be called "Flowering Chinese Cabbage" due to the yellow flowers that comes with this particular vegetable. The term "choy sum" is sometimes used to describe the stem of any Chinese cabbage, or the soft inner core of a Pak choi with the tougher outer leaves removed.
- Baby Pak choi, Shanghai Pak choi, or mei quin choi (Chinese: 上海白菜; pinyin: Shànghǎi báicài; Japanese: 青梗菜, chingensai) refers to greener varieties where the varioles are also green. It is simply a less-mature version that could develop into the white-stemmed variety with more time to grow before being harvested. In Shanghai and other eastern China provinces, it is simply called qīngcài (青菜; literally blue/green vegetable) or qīngjiāngcài (青江菜; literally "blue/green river vegetable").
Chinese cabbage, raw
(chinensis, pak choi)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz) Energy 54 kJ (13 kcal) Carbohydrates 2.2 g - Dietary fiber 1.0 g Fat 0.2 g Protein 1.5 g Vitamin A equiv. 243 μg (30%) Vitamin A 4468 IU Vitamin C 45 mg (54%) Calcium 105 mg (11%) Iron 0.80 mg (6%) Magnesium 19 mg (5%) Sodium 65 mg (4%) Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Pak choi contains glucosinolates. These compounds have been reported to prevent cancer in small doses, but are toxic to humans in large doses. In 2009, an elderly woman who had been consuming 1 to 1.5 kg of raw Pak choi per day developed hypothyroidism, resulting in myxedema coma. There are other milder symptoms from over-consumption of Pak choi, such as nausea, dizziness and indigestion in people with weaker digestive systems. Sometimes this is caused by not thoroughly cooking.
- ^ "Help is on the way for consumers confused by the wide array of Asian vegetables on sale". 2009-10-22. http://web.archive.org/web/20070820080605/http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/aboutus/news/releases/agriculture_news/2005/asian-vegetables. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
- ^ "Asian vegetable names". http://web.archive.org/web/20061030034604/http://www.agric.nsw.gov.au/reader/veg-general/asian-vegetable-names.pdf. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
- ^ Hill, Kathryn (2009-10-22). "Know Your Asian Greens". http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/know-your-asian-greens-098840. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
- ^ a b Harlan, Dr. Timothy S.. "Ingredients: Pak choi". http://www.drgourmet.com/ingredients/bokchoy.shtml. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
- ^ Rabin, Roni Caryn (2010-05-24). "Regimens: Eat Your Vegetables, but Not Too Many". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/health/research/25regi.html. Retrieved 2010-06-03.
- Nutritional information on bok choy (with photo of chinensis variety)
- Multilingual taxonomical information from the University of Melbourne
- How to choose, store and use pak choi from Veg Box Recipes
- Bok choy recipe
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