Bok Choy Salad with Sesame-Almond Crunch
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This bok choy salad recipe has become an early summer staple when the bok choy begins arriving in our farm share. The dressing has that salty-sweet dynamic, which the slightly bitter bok choy welcomes. The sesame-almond crunch is addictive!
Last summer I learned that Swiss chard, like kale, can be eaten raw and is especially delicious with a lemony dressing and toasted garlic breadcrumbs.
You would think this revelation would have opened my mind and inspired experiments with other greens I had assigned to the cook-only category. It did somewhat — mustard greens and broccoli rabe, I learned, do well with that same treatment — but these discoveries were not enough to reform me completely.
On Sunday, for instance, my friend emailed me her “tried-and-true” bok choy salad recipe, and I couldn’t help but think: Shouldn’t bok choy be cooked?
It turns out bok choy makes an excellent salad, its crunchy stalks and sturdy leaves capable of enduring a bold, salty-sweet dressing. A slightly sweet dressing, in fact, is just what slightly bitter bok choy needs. My particular head of bok choy — the largest I had ever seen with tough greens begging to be braised and big, watery stalks — brightened under this assertive dressing. The whole salad, moreover, kept well in the fridge.
The most fun part about this recipe, however, is the sesame-almond crunch, a mix of melted sugar, toasted almonds and sesame seeds, that comes together in a flash and disappears about as quickly. Warning: Do not in an effort, say, to get a jumpstart on dinner make the crunch ahead of time. It will not, I promise, last five minutes.
When the sugar looks like this, add the almonds and sesame seeds:
Adapted from Charlene from Table of Gratitude
Bok Choy: Bok choy tends to be really dirty, so it’s best to soak the leaves in water before using: Cut off the very ends, separate the leaves, chopped them into ½-inch pieces, and let them soak in a bowl of cold water till the dirt settles. Scoop the leaves out and transfer to a colander to drain. Pat dry with towels — no need to make sure the leaves are completely dry.
Sugar: The original recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of sugar in the dressing but I find 1 tablespoon of sugar to be enough. I suggest making it once with the 1 tablespoon of sugar; then adding more (or cutting back) the next time around based on your experience.
- 1½ pounds bok choy, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water to allow dirt to settle, then drained—it’s OK if a little water is clinging to the greens
for the sesame-almond crunch:
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup sugar
- ⅓ cup sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
for the dressing:
- 1 to 3 tablespoons sugar, see notes above
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced
- If you haven’t prepared the bok choy, slice it crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Place it in a large bowl, and cover with cold water. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Place the almonds and sesame seeds in a large, dry skillet set over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally (watching like a hawk) until golden brown. Transfer to a small plate or sheet pan to cool.
- Sprinkle the 1/4 cup sugar in an even layer over the same pan and set over medium heat. Line a plate with parchment paper. The moment the sugar is completely liquefied and beginning to turn brown, add the almonds, sesame seeds, and sea salt. Stir with a heat-proof spatula or wooden spoon until the nut-seed mixture is evenly distributed. Do this quickly, so that the mixture does not burn. Immediately transfer the nut-seed mixture to the plate to cool.
- In a small saucepan, bring the dressing ingredients to a boil, using 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, turn off the heat. Add the sliced green onions, give the pan a swirl, and set aside. Dressing can be used while warm or cool.
- Scoop the bok choy from the bowl of water and transfer it to a colander. Dry in a salad spinner or by simply using a large towel — it doesn’t have to be completely dry. Transfer bok choy to a salad bowl. Pour the dressing over top and toss. Taste. Add a pinch of sea salt if necessary. Just before serving, add the nut mixture and toss well.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Asian, American
Keywords: bok choy, salad, raw, sesame, almond, crunch