Many of you have eaten bok-choy, no doubt. When ordering in a Chinese restaurant, your vegetable, meat or fish dish probably had some bok-choy. The Chinese call it pak-choy or white cabbage. It is now widely available in North America and in Europe. It was introduced to the Europeans as early as the 1800s.
In Hong Kong, there are about 20 varieties of this vegetable. I seldom use it when I cook only because spinach can very well replace many Asian vegetables.
One day I had a craving for kangkong, a delicious vegetable that is a favorite of Filipinos. One simple way to eat kangkong is to saute it in low heat with soy sauce and vinegar (or oyster sauce diluted in a bit of water). Fresh garlic – about six cloves – are fried in oil until they’re roasted to a rich brown. After your kangkong has shrunk in size, you take it out of the fire, slide it into a serving dish and sprinkle the roasted garlic on top. Eat it with hot, steamed rice and you’re good to go.
That day when the craving hit me, I felt that I just had to have a vegetable that was identical to kangkong. I sauntered off to this Asian mega store and started eyeing the vegetables. I deliberately snubbed the bok-choy. Just as I was going to settle for spinach, I saw these long stemmed vegetables with a dark green color. Yu choy it said on the wrapper. Hmmm, I thought. Why not?
I bought two bundles. There are about five stems like these to one bundle. Since I’d never eaten yu choy before, I decided to look it up, almost expecting Google to say “no matches.”
As it turns out, you never underestimate a giant clearinghouse of information like Google. There are web sites that have information on yu choy; one example is this web site called “recipetips”: http://www.recipetips.com/glossary-term/t–36957/yu-choy.asp.
Here’s a close-up of the yu-choy leaf.
So was it a good substitute for kangkong? In a way, yes, but kangkong still gets my vote and will remain close to my heart. I have however gotten used to yu-choy – have bought it so many times; it has made its way to my “repertoire” of vegetables. I highly recommend it. I cook it the way I cook my kangkong dish: sauteed in oyster sauce and then roasted garlic thrown in.