Baby bok choy and tofu stir-fry is an easy plant-based meal to enjoy on a weeknight or anytime! In case you are not sure what to do with tofu, this is the recipe for you as I explain how to press and marinate it for a chewy texture and excellent flavor!
I find the best baby bok choy at local Asian markets like Assi Plaza and H-Mart. Bok choy is also called pak choy or Shanghai green cabbage. This is a cruciferous vegetable, rich in beneficial phytonutrients which might have the potential to prevent cancer.
Baby bok choy is very tender and juicy. It doesn’t have the assertive bitterness of some dark green leafy vegetables. The white parts are crispy and add a great texture to dishes. I cut off about 1/2″ to an inch from each head from the bottom of the core. Then, you will want to rinse the leaves out well. Chopping them further makes this easier.
Baby Bok Choy and Nutrition
One cup of baby bok choy has only 20 calories. I consider this vegetable to be a nutrition powerhouse. It has 158 mg, of calcium and is relatively low in oxalate, which means the calcium is better absorbed than the calcium in spinach (which is not absorbed well at all). One cup of bok choy also provides 1.7 gm. fiber, 1.77 mg. of iron, 631 mg. of potassium, and 44 mg. of vitamin C. (Source: USDA Nutrient Database).
How to Prepare Baby Bok Choy
Baby bok choy is very easy to cook. First, slice off the bottom core and rinse the leaves well. Then you can roast or braise them whole. I may also slice the leaves across. The white part at the bottom of the leaves is a little crunchy and sweet, as are the green leaf tips. I love to add this to stir-fries. I add in the white parts first so they cook longer, and the green leafy parts toward the end.
This veggie goes well with sesame oil, garlic, ginger, tamari sauce, orange juice, red peppers, water chestnuts, onions, carrots, and more. If making soup, just add in your sliced bok choy toward the end of the cooking process so it stays a vibrant green and retains more vitamins.
Use baby bok choy in salads and smoothies (I would just use the green leaves for smoothies). Cook it gently to add to a burrito. Or, chop and add to your pizza before baking. Watch out kale: here comes a new favorite!
Tofu and Nutrition
Tofu is soybean curd. It is rich in nutrients like protein. A 100 gm. serving of firm tofu contains 89 calories, 8.9 gm. protein, 127 mg. of calcium with under 4 gm. of fat, and no cholesterol. (source: USDA FoodData Central). The calcium content depends on how it is set. Check the label: if tofu is set with calcium sulfate, it is a very good non-dairy source of calcium.
- Extra-firm tofu – or firm tofu. If you don’t have any tofu, substitute tempeh. Skip the pressing step but do marinate it.
- Sesame oil
- Tamari sauce – choose reduced sodium. You can substitute reduced sodium soy sauce if you don’t have tamari sauce
- Garlic – use fresh or jarred chopped cloves
- Peanut or olive oil – peanut would be more authentc. Light olive oil wlaos works well
- Onion – choose a yellow or white onion, or use the white parts of scallions
- Yellow bell pepper – any color is fine
- Baby bok choy heads – I chop these intochunks so they are easier to eat with chopsticks
- Hoisin sauce
- Black pepper
- Sesame seeds
How to Prepare Tofu
I recommend starting with extra-firm or firm tofu and then pressing it. The softer silken tofu isn’t good for stir-frying. That is best for softer foods like smoothies, mousse, and frying to make a vegan scrambled egg dish.
Pressing firm tofu will give it a chewier texture, instead of being mushy and falling to pieces when you try to mix it with other ingredients in the pan. First, I cut it into small pieces:
and place it on a plate between 2 paper towels. Then, I weight it down, usually with some dinner plates (these are stoneware so they are pretty heavy).
The next step is to marinate the tofu. Then it will pick up a lot of flavor. That’s what makes tofu so versatile: it will take on whatever flavors you combine with it. The complaints people usually have about tofu are that it is bland and mushy. Now you know how to make it chewy and savory.
After marinating for about 10 – 15 minutes (or more – but then put it in the fridge for a longer marinade), you stir-fry it with the vegetables and sauce ingredients:
And then sprinkle it with sesame seeds: voila! You can serve this plain or over rice or noodles. I just had it with a side of Thai basil vegan dumplings.
Q: What could I substitute for baby bok choy?
A: Kale, Swiss chard, or spinach would also be delicious in this recipe.
Q: Can I use regular instead of baby bok choy?
A: Yes, absolutely.
Q: Does bok choy have to be cooked?
A: No you could eat it in a salad, but I think at least blanching it (boiling for a minute or two) would make it easier to eat.
Q: What if I don’t have time to press the tofu?
A: It’s Ok to skip this step if you are busy. Do try to marinate it even for a few minutes before cooking to give it more flavor.
This will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days. The texture of tofu changes once it is frozen so I don’t recommend freezing this meal.
More Vegan Entrees You May Enjoy:
If you’re wondering how to grill tofu, check out this recipe: Orange Tahini Grilled Tofu.
- Vegan Stuffed Shells with Kale and Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Easy Vegan Broccoli Pesto Pizza
- Slow cooker vegan chili
- Mexican black bean lasagna
- 15 Best Vegan Side Dishes for Grilled and Baked Tofu
Baby Bok Choy with Tofu Stir-fry
- Nonstick wok or large frying pan
- Wooden or bamboo spatula
- Cutting board
- Chef's knife
- paring knife
- Medium-sized bowl
- Measuring spoons
- 8 ounces extra-firm tofu
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil divided
- 1 teaspoon tamari sauce reduced sodium
- 2 cloves garlic, minced divided
- 1 teaspoon peanut or olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ chopped yellow bell pepper
- 2 heads baby bok choy, chopped into 2" pieces
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons water or vegetable broth
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sesame seeds
- Slice the tofu into 3 cubes of about 1". Press it between paper towels by placing it between plates with something heavy on top for 15 minutes.
- Prepare the marinade with 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil, soy sauce, chopped green onion, and 1 chopped clove of garlic. Mix together in a medium sized bowl.
- Place the pressed tofu into the bowl with marinade, mixing gently so it is coated. Let it sit for 10 – 15 minutes.
- Place the 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil and the peanut or olve oil into the wok or frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the tofu with the marinade to the pan. Let the tofu cook for 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
- Add the onions and peppers to the pan. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the bok choy, hoisin sauce, water, and black pepper to the wok or pan. Cook and stir for another 2 – 3 minutes until the bok choy is bright green.
- Top with sesame seeds and serve with rice or noddles as desired.
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Please share in the comments if you have made this recipe, and how you liked it!
Originally published: 3/2019. Updated 7/31/2021.