Pak Choi - Chinese Cabbage


What is the pak choi?

The pak choi (common name in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Italy) is a plant-derived food classified as a vegetable. Its strange name derives from the western translation of a Cantonese term meaning " white vegetable ".

In the West, the pak-choi is known mainly as " Chinese cabbage " (by virtue of its eastern origins).

From a nutritional point of view, the pak choi is naturally rich in water, fiber and minerals; thanks to its excellent concentrations of vitamin C and carotenoids (pro-vitamin A) it falls within the VI and VII fundamental group of foods.

Chinese cabbage is eaten mainly cooked, as a side dish or ingredient for: first courses, unique dishes and dishes (dry or soupy).

Note : in the United States of America the pak choi is better known as bok choi . In Australia, pak and bok are used to name two different varieties. In the Philippines, it is called by the Spanish term "péchay" or by the Tagalog term "petsay".

Botanical outline

The pak choi is a vegetable belonging to the botanical family of Brassicaceae and to the genus Brassica . Originally it was erroneously classified as an independent species (Brassica chinensis ); only later was it better defined as a subspecies of kohlrabi ( B. rapa subsp. chinensis ).

The pak choi is cultivated mainly in southern China and south-east Asia. Being resistant to harsh winter temperatures, this crop is catching on even in most of northern Europe.


Many varieties of pak choi are cultivated; none of these produces "the head" (typical, for example, of cauliflower or broccoli or romanesco) and are instead quite similar to black cabbage, although the appearance of the coasts and leaves is very reminiscent of chard or chard ( Beta vulgaris ).

These morphological characteristics have led to the attribution of the Anglo-Saxon nicknames of: chinese chard, chinese mustard, celery mustard and spoon cabbage.

Nutritional characteristics

Nutritional properties of pak choi

Raw pak choi is composed of: 95% water, 2% carbohydrates, 1% protein and less than 1% fat.

It provides only 13 kcal / 100g, made mainly from fructose.

The pak choi is an excellent source of vitamin A (> 20% RDA), vitamin C (> 50% RDA) and vitamin K (> 40% RDA); also contains moderate amounts of folate, vitamin B6, calcium and manganese.

It is cholesterol-free, while the fibers are noticeable.


Chinese cabbage was ranked 2nd in the nutritional density ranking of the 41 nutrient-rich plant foods.

The pak choi is a food that lends itself to any diet; it has no contraindications for the diet against overweight and metabolic diseases (diabetes mellitus type 2, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia).

It does not contain gluten or lactose. It is tolerated by vegetarian and vegan philosophy.

The average portion of pak choi is about 100-300 g (13-40 kcal).

Pak Choi - Nutritional values ​​per 100 g
Power13 kcal
Total carbohydrates2.2 g
Starch- g
Simple sugars- g
fibers1.0 g
Grassi0.2 g
Saturated- g
Monounsaturated- g
polyunsaturated- g
Protein1.5 g
water95.3 g
Vitamin A equivalent243.0 μg30%
Beta-carotene2681.0 μg25%
Lutein Zexanthin- μg
Vitamin A- IU
Thiamine or B10.04 mg3%
Riboflavin or B20.07 mg6%
Niacin or PP or B30.5 mg3%
Pantothenic acid or B50.09 mg2 %
Pyridoxine or B60.19 mg15%
folate66.0 μg17%
Choline- mg-%
Ascorbic acid or C45 mg54%
Vitamin D- μg-%
Alpha-tocopherol or E- mg-%
Vit. K46.0 μg44%
Football105.0 mg11%
Iron0.80 mg6%
Magnesium19.0 mg5%
Manganese0.16 mg8%
Phosphorus- mg-%
Potassium252.0 mg5%
Sodium65.0 mg4%
Zinc- mg-%
Fluoride- μg-%


Pak choi in the kitchen

The pak choi can be consumed young, small, but also fully developed.

The small Chinese cabbage (up to 25 centimeters) is particularly suitable for raw consumption, properly washed and cut into julienne strips. Little seasoned (Chinese, with soy sauce, or Italian style, with extra virgin olive oil), it is an excellent side dish.

The large pak choi, on the other hand, is excellent for cooking. The most commonly used systems are: pan-fried, stewing and grilled.

The pak choi lends itself to sesame and derivatives, soy and fermented derivatives (such as tofu) etc. In Chinese cuisine, it is an ingredient widely used as an accompaniment to noodles, stir-fried together with other vegetables and seaweed with plenty of oil.

The pak choi is also stewed or placed in the very popular oriental soups.

Recipe of the "Stir-Fried Pak Choi" (Chinese pak choi)

  1. Separate the large pak choi leaves and rinse under running cold water. Cut into pieces of about two square centimeters.
  2. Create an emulsion / solution with: a tablespoon of water, one of white wine or sherry, a teaspoon of soy sauce, one of corn starch and one of sugar.
  3. In a pan, pour two teaspoons of sesame oil or canola; bring to temperature and add the pak choi by jumping. After 4 minutes pour the emulsion / solution and skip for a minute. Serve hot.


Does pak choi hurt?

The pak choi contains molecules called glucosinolates .

These chemical compounds have been analyzed for the suspicion that, if taken in small doses, they can play a preventive role in the onset of cancer or therapeutic for the diseases of the part. However, like other mildly phytotoxic molecules, glucosinolates can also be harmful to humans if taken in large doses.

Glucosinolates are in fact particularly harmful to people who are already seriously ill. In 2009, an elderly diabetic woman who had consumed 1 to 1.5 kg of raw pak choi a day in an attempt to treat her illness developed hypothyroidism and subsequent coma from myxedema (as diabetic complications).