Pak Choi Feature
Pak Choi have been in cultivation in China since the 5th Century and have now spread throughout Asia, Europe, America and even into the tropics. The secret to its success is simple – versatility. You can grow Pak Choi in the open, in containers and in grow bags: heat tolerant varieties also do well in green houses and poly tunnels. Its ability to resprout means that you can get a lot of crop from a small space. The whole plant is edible (leaf, stalk and flowering shoot) and it can be eaten from as young as a couple of weeks onwards.
First the young leaves, when they are no more than 10cm long and before the stems start to grow, make crisp and succulent salad leaves. Pak Choi are vigorous resprouters so pinching off the leaves allows new leaves to grow –try the bright Golden Lion for a dash of salad colour.
About a month from sowing plants reach the ‘baby size’ with more substantial leaves and the swollen leaf stems indicating they are forming the familiar vase shape. At this size the whole plant can be cut and either shredded for salad (including the stems) or sliced and lightly cooked or even braised. If you cut about 2cm above the ground they will resprout. Alternatively pick the outer leaves when they are the size you prefer.
Mature Pak Choi take about 5-8 weeks to reach full size. They can still be eaten raw: try them as a mild alternative to celery stems for eating with dips or dimply dice for a crunchy salad texture. There are a myriad of ways to cook Pak Choi – stir fry, steam, add to soup... the list goes on. At this age the stems take a minute or so longer to cook than the leaves: simply cut the stalks into pieces and add them before adding the leaves nearer to the end of cooking.
The flowering shoots, which are delicious, can be triggered into growth if the plant is stressed by drought or through taking some leaves for salad and then allowing the plant to grow on. If overwintered (with protection) Pak Choi will naturally go to flower in the second year. Add flowers to salads or steam lightly, treat them like broccoli or use as a substitute to spinach.
Pak Choi is best when used fresh but an unusual way (at least in this country) of storing Pak Choi for future use is to dry the large leaves. Simply hang them up until they are crisp. Add these to soups and casseroles that you cook during the winter for a delicious flavour.
We have three new Pak Choi varieties joining our range this August: Hanakan, Golden Lion and Black Summer. Now you have 12 wonderful varieties to choose from: possibly the widest range to be found in one place, truly we are More Veg!.