Simple Stir-Fry: Shanghai Bok Choy

Stir-Fried Shanghai Bok Choy with Garlic and Chiles

Some variation of tumis sayur, a side dish of stir-fried greens, is often found on the Indonesian, Malaysian, and Singaporean dinner table. Three ingredients — Shanghai bok choy, garlic, and fresh chiles — come together within minutes to create a simple but satisfying addition to any meal. The fresh chiles are essential in this dish. Aside from adding a bit of heat, it adds smokiness that complements the garlic aroma well.

Needless to say, such simple flavorings call for the freshest greens cooked as briefly as possible. Best served immediately, begin stir-frying once the table is set and the rest of the meal is ready.

Arguably China’s most well-known vegetables, regular bok choy and Shanghai bok choy can be easily confused with each other. One easy way to distinguish each varietal from the other is to compare the colors of the stalks and leaves. Regular bok choy have pearl white stalks and deep green leaves while Shanghai bok choy have greenish white stalks and paler green leaves. Shanghai bok choy will be smaller and more tender — perfect for the brief stir-frying called for in tumis sayur.

Weekend Herb Blogging
Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Divya of Dil Se

recipe adapted from James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor

Stir-Fried Shanghai Bok Choy with Garlic and Chiles
Tumis Sayur

makes 4 servings

Stir-Fried Shanghai Bok Choy and Thai Red Chiles

Shanghai bok choy, approximately 8 heads (12 ounces / 340 grams)
3 tablespoons peanut oil
4 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1 to 2 fresh red chiles, or to taste


  • As with any stir-fried recipe, prepare and portion all of the ingredients even before heating up the wok.

Prepare the ingredients for stir-frying. Trim the bottoms of the bok choy to separate the stalks. Discard the bottoms. In a large bowl filled with cold water, gently wash the bok choy in several changes of water until thoroughly cleaned. Sand and grit will settle in the bottom of the bowl.

Washing Shanghai Bok Choy

Using a salad spinner or paper towels, dry the bok choy thoroughly.

Bruise the garlic cloves lightly and peel. Chop coarsely into 3 to 4 large chunks.

Stem the chiles and slice thinly on the diagonal.

To Stir-Fry:

Heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peanut oil and continue to heat until the oil is shimmering but not smoking. If the oil is smoking, remove from the heat briefly to cool. Add the garlic, chiles, and salt. Stir-fry vigorously for no more than a minute, ensuring that the garlic does not brown.

Stir-Frying Garlic and Thai Red Chiles

Add the Shanghai bok choy. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes, just until the leaves begin to wilt and the stalks are still firm and crisp. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Stir-Frying Shanghai Bok Choy

To Serve:

Serve immediately in a wide platter, preferably in a single layer. This will keep the greens from overcooking and turning mushy on the plate.

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26 Responses to “Simple Stir-Fry: Shanghai Bok Choy”

  1. Joelen says:

    This looks great Jude! Bok choy is one of my fave vegetables and I hope to try this recipe soon!

    last blog post: Eggrolls & Asian Appetizers Roundup!

  2. Arundathi says:

    I love bok choy and this is exactly how I make it at home. Though we don’t get Shanghai bok choy here, the same tastes great with the regular kind as well.

    last blog post: Brownies

  3. Divya Vikram says:

    Bok choy looks gorgeous..Great pics..And thanks for sending this to WHB

  4. Ellie @ Kitchen Wench says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! I absolutely love stir-fried bok choy :)

  5. Erin @ The Skinny Gourmet says:

    Greetings! I understand from the roundup that you are another chicago blogger. Nice to meet ya! This bok choy looks delicious. I always want to try cooking with more bok choy.

    last blog post: Irish Chicken Salad Sandwich on Soda Bread

  6. Natashya says:

    That looks so fresh and good.
    I love stir fried bok choy, especially with Thai chilies and garlic. Sounds wonderful.
    And your photos are absolutely beautiful.

    last blog post: GYO – Easy Peasy Summer Pasta

  7. kat says:

    what a beautifully simple dish

    last blog post: BLT Bread Salad

  8. RebeccaC says:

    Wow! Gorgeous! Between the Olympics and this, I’m going to HAVE To have some stir fry this week!

    last blog post: Eggplant Parmesan Towers

  9. Kalyn says:

    I haven’t heard of Shanghai Bok Choy before. I wonder if that’s what my store calls Baby Bok Choy? Anyway, this sounds delicious no matter what it’s called. Love you top photo especially.

    last blog post: Red Russian Kale and Red Onion Savory Breakfast Squares Recipe

  10. Kevin says:

    That looks both simple and tasty!

    last blog post: Maple Pecan Granola

  11. Tom Aarons says:

    You’ve done it again. This looks stunningly simple, beautiful and elegant. Not to mention delicious. Wow!

  12. oggi says:

    Bok choy simply steamed or stir-fried is one of our favorites. I love the addition of chiles in your recipe.
    Your photos are beautiful!

    last blog post: Coffee Roasted Butterfish

  13. _ts of [eatingclub] vancouver says:

    Even your simple stir-fry looks so freaking amazing! Gack!

    last blog post: Corn with Bagoong Butter

  14. kellypea says:

    Really beautiful dish! We celebrated the opening of the Olympic games with a dish that included Baby Bok Choy. This stir fry method is so quick and easy and looks delicious.

    last blog post: Toasted Brioche with Lemon Cream and Raspberries

  15. PaniniKathy says:

    What a beautiful dish – lovely colors! Bok choy is one of my “new” favorite vegetables, and stir-fried with garlic my favorite preparation.

  16. Sookie's Kitchen says:

    Can always use new lunch dish ideas – in which, I tend to use a lot of bok choy. This will work great… perhaps with some grilled tofu or pork.. must be hungry! ;)

  17. sweetbird says:

    Oh my, I love bok choy, especially stir fried! This is so going on the menu next week.

  18. sweetbird says:

    By the way Jude, I’ve found on the last few posts that if I don’t un-click the “add a link to your last blog post” at the bottom it presents with an error message and won’t allow me to post a comment. I just figured this out now after struggling to post a comment on your beautiful zucchini rolls. It might just be me, but I thought I should let you know.

  19. joelen – bok choy is one of my favorites, too. very easy to prepare but always satisfying.

    arundathi – yup, it definitely works great with the regular bok choy as well

    divya – thanks for hosting!

    ellie – thanks!

    erin – always nice to hear from Chicago bloggers. been checking out your blog from time to time.

    natashya – thanks! it’s not fun to shoot while stir-frying but oh well.

    kat – very simple for sure – just the way i like it.

    rebecca – can’t go wrong with stir-fried vegetables

    kalyn – sometimes this is labeled as shanghai baby bok choy – almost 100% sure it’s the same vegetable.

    kevin – simple and tasty is always good isn’t it?

    tom – thanks for the kind words.

    oggi – the chiles make a big difference to me. gotta have it if you ask me.

    ts – thanks :)

    kellypea – i want a “phelps phan” t-shirt

    paninikathy – I always have bok choy on hand. so many good ways to prepare it

    sookie – I’ve tried it with tofu and ground pork, too. just need rice and it’s a full meal.

    sweetbird – thanks for letting me know about that little glitch. i always appreciate comments and it wouldn’t be nice if it broke after taking the time to post a note.

  20. Maya says:

    My mom makes this ( ans so have i) like a thousand times. But it is good every time!!

    last blog post: Beautiful Berries

  21. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy says:

    I made this recipe last night and it was delicious! Thanks for sharing it. :)

    last blog post: You Asked & I Delivered: Blueberry-Almond Crumble Bars

  22. Simple flavorings. « FP Daily says:

    [...] Simple flavorings. August 17, 2008, 4:12 pm Filed under: Apple Pie Patis & Pâté | Tags: bok choy joy, chile-loco, eat your vegetables Shanghai bok choy, garlic, and fresh chiles. [...]

  23. Life Chef says:

    Great directions and fantastic photos. Well done! Bok choy in any incarnation, and it’s many cousins, are some of my favorite greens. I love the contrast of the crisp stems and the tender greens. And they “absorb” flavors wonderfully, which makes them incredibly flexible.

  24. Shanghai Baby Bok Choy « says:

    [...] Rather than tell you again how I like to cook Asian greens, I’m just going to link to another blogger who actually knows what they’re doing when they’re cooking. Jude at Apple Pie, Patis, & Pâté has a a yummy-looking recipe for this vegetable, Simple Stir-Fry: Shanghai Bok Choy. [...]

  25. fresh vending dallas says:

    Ganun ba? I really thought 6am start nya, 6:30am start for a 10km is too late na. Nice to see you sir! Mizuno Run club uli?

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