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Pak choi, or Bok chio

The pak choi (or even Bok choi) is a vegetable of Chinese origin, typical of Asian cuisine, which lately has also been found without problems on the European market; it is a cabbage, the Latin name is Brassica rapa, var. Chinensis, and, as is the case for all species of the genus brassica, is consumed in large quantities as it contains many healthy vitamins and mineral salts. While most cabbages are grown during the cold months, the Pak Choi it can also be grown in late spring and summer, and has a very short cultivation period, for this reason it is often used in the vegetable garden as an early vegetable or as a summer filler in flower beds waiting to grow other plants, in order to expand the rotation of crops in the vegetable garden. It is a cabbage, even if the physical aspect reminds much more of the chard, or a sort of hypertrophic soncino: it forms scarcely compact tufts, with thick ribbed leaves, which widen at the apex, in the green part. There are varieties with a light green rib, and also varieties with a more crisp and juicy rib, of a light green color. It is a vegetable to be eaten raw, but only as regards the young leaves; the larger tufts and ribs are cut coarsely and are used cooked, for sautéing vegetables, soups, omelettes, pasta or rice dishes. Unlike other cabbages, Bok choi has a fairly delicate flavor and a pleasant aroma, and is often appreciated even by those who do not tolerate cabbage in any way; for this reason it is the favorite cabbage to be brought to the table for children or picky diners. In fact, cooked in a soup or an omelette, the typical flavor of cabbage is almost unheard of, rather reminiscent of chard, but without the earthy aftertaste.


How to grow pak choi

As we said, these vegetables have a fairly short cultivation period, usually about one month passes from sowing to harvest; they are sown in late winter, for a spring harvest, in spring for a summer harvest, in late summer for an autumn harvest; they can also be sown in late spring or summer, but if we want tender, crunchy and juicy leaves, we will have to water the plants abundantly, which if left long in the dry tend to become woody, and with a much more intense flavor.

They are sown in a seedbed, or directly at home; in the first case, as soon as the seedlings are large enough to be moved, they are positioned in rows, at a distance of about 8-10 cm between the rows and between the individual plants. If, on the other hand, we have sown broadcasters at home, we will give a slight thinning in the areas where the plants are more dense. Within a couple of weeks we will already get young plants suitable to be eaten raw; after about 30 days instead we will have the tufts formed, suitable for cooking. If desired, we can sow the Bok choi at intervals of 15-20 days, or cultivate a large flowerbed and then store the coarsely cut vegetables and put them in the freezer, to use them over the months.

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