Bok Choy Salad with Sesame-Almond Crunch
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
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 or sliced 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.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Asian, American
Keywords: bok choy, salad, raw, sesame, almond, crunch