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come play with us this summer

Recipe: stir-fried baby bok choy

There are a few spaces left in the Food and Light workshop to be held in Boulder, Colorado on August 2-3, 2011. If you want to take your food photography skills to the next level, if you’re in a rut, or even if you are just getting started – it’s a great opportunity to learn, work hard, make friends, eat amazing food, have fun, and experience a little bit of glorious downtown Boulder in summer.

shooting in my home studio

We have a rock ’em, sock ’em line-up of instructors who were not only selected for their stunning body of work, but for their ability to teach and teach well. I’m quite proud of this team because our collaboration from the beginning has been cooperative, jovial, enthusiastic and most importantly – we are all focused on providing the best experiences for our workshop attendees. In a month, we will be sending out a questionnaire to Food and Light 2011 participants to gauge what each person’s skill level is and to find out what topics they want us to cover and what specifics they want to be addressed. It’s highly customized to the individuals because we only spend a small fraction of the workshop giving lectures. Most of the time is spent shooting and working one-on-one with the instructors.

matt is a our canon man (photo courtesy of matt wright)

Did I mention that Matt wrote a photography manual to raise money for Japan’s relief efforts? He did. He’s amazing.

This year we’re changing things up a bit and spending our second day of the workshop in a restaurant setting at The Kitchen Upstairs. We’ve got the whole place to ourselves! The first day will still be at that beautiful light-filled Rembrandt Yard art gallery we booked last year. This way we can get some studio work at the gallery, some dynamic shooting at the restaurant, and a group family-style lunch at the restaurant (fun!!!). I’m even going to request Diane’s *favorite* waiter :)

todd working the cake (photo courtesy of white on rice couple)

Besides the fundamentals, we plan to cover: styling, composition, motion, lighting (natural and artificial), and we’re adding a short session on digital post-processing. Our sponsor Pro Photo Rental will be providing Canon and Nikon pro lenses for attendees to test drive. That’s super awesome. As stated on the website: Our goal is to not only teach you the fundamentals of food photography and food styling, but to give you the tools to continue learning when the workshop is over. So I hope you’ll consider joining us because it’s going to be a blast!

diane in the studio (photo courtesy of white on rice couple)

There’s never a free moment around here and that’s largely because I cram as much as I can into my calendar. My friend is writing up her dissertation and I read with some horror that she hadn’t been eating well a few weeks ago. At Cornell, when close friends were “in the cave”, I whipped up a few batches of food for them so they wouldn’t have to worry about cooking/feeding themselves. It’s only natural that I’d offer to bring her some food. Ya gotta eat, right?! I asked if she liked beef and broccoli, hot and sour soup, kung pao chicken, bok choy… She said she’d love anything I made. I hope she likes bok choy.

baby bok choy (because baby everything is cuter)

lop off the base

I doubled everything I made for my friend since most of the effort in Chinese cooking is the chopping – that way I could feed my household as well as her. I am all about the greens lately. Just craving them like crazy because I want wholesome, simple food. And that means my mom’s cooking. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s incredibly good.

slice the heart in half


Baby bok choy is usually pretty clean, but give it a good rinse in water to get rid of any silt on the leaves or between the ribs. I shake off as much excess water from the bok choy as I can before stir-frying. Since I doubled this recipe, you might think I cooked the whole thing in one go. Nope. I’ve discovered (through trial and much error) that my sauté pan can handle a maximum of a pound of bok choy. If you crowd the pan too much, everything just steams and wilts. So be patient and cook a pound at a time.

washed and shaken dry

stir-fry in oil and a little salt

That’s it – (baby) bok choy, oil, and salt. So simple and yet incredibly satisfying and good for you. It’s a fantastic side dish, but I also love to eat a pile of the greens with a small bowl of rice or with a bowl of hot Chinese noodle soup. That is good stuff. I get baby bok choy in the Asian grocery store although I’ve seen it on rare occasion at regular grocery stores (although they usually look pretty tired).

the hearts are sweet

Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy
[print recipe]

1 lb. baby bok choy
2 tbsps vegetable oil (something without flavor – not sesame or olive)
salt to taste

Trim the base of each bok choy bunch and peel away any bad outer leaves. Remove loose leaves from the bunch, but if they’re in good shape – save them. Slice the hearts in half. Wash the good loose leaves and hearts in water and drain. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large sauté pan. When the oil is hot, add all of the bok choy at once. Stir-fry a few minutes and sprinkle salt to taste (like 1/2 teaspoon, but it varies). The bok choy is done when the leaves wilt and turn dark green. The white stalks will soften. It took me about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and serve. Serves four as a side dish.

21 nibbles at “come play with us this summer”

  1. LimeCake says:

    This is exactly how I prepare most of my Chinese vegetables. Sometimes I like drizzling a little sesame oil right at the end before serving. Simplicity is always best!

  2. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) says:

    I hope some people who are attending F & L see this post and de-lurk (please! I’d love to know who’s going and “meet” some of you now because I am going!)

    I cannot wait, Jen. Seriously, I think about it I am beyond excited! I did a workshop with Matt and Adam in LA about 2 weekends ago and it was amazing. Life changing, kind of! And I cannot wait to meet you and everyone else at F & L!

    And yes, I love baby bok choy. In my CSA box in San Diego, always get tons of the baby bok.

  3. Bing Chou says:

    I’ve had similar luck with Boulder/Denver area bok choy: generally very good at the asian grocers, hit or miss with regular grocery stores (they carry it consistently, it’s the quality that’s inconsistent). King Soopers seems to have decent bok choy most consistently out of the regular grocery stores.

  4. Michelle says:

    Wow! I would love to attend – what a great opportunity!

  5. Erin says:

    OMG. sooooo good, Jen. You’re the best!

  6. Agnes says:

    I’m also “in the cave” right now :((
    It is very sweet of you to cook for your friends. You need good nutrition for the hardworking brain! It is important to keep healthy and sane during the writing up. Staying sane is difficult, keeping healthy is easier, especially with friends like you.

  7. Nicole says:

    Last year we had the most amazing bok choy vendor at the Farmer’s Market. Like all Alaska veggies, it had a slightly sweet taste from being grown in the permafrost. We were eating three heads a week while it was in season. We prepared it simply, just as you described. It was amazing. I later learned that the Farmer’s referred to my boyfriend and I as the “Crazy Bok Choy People”. We have become friends over the last year and have signed up for their CSA. They did ask that we take it easy on the Bok Choy and let others have some. Maybe I’ll sneak some in my suitcase when I come down for Food and Light in August. I am signed up and can’t wait. Is it possible to get a list of those attending? I would love to take a peek at the other bloggers sites.

  8. Christine says:

    Jen, you’re such a good friend to do that! I LOVE bok choy, especially the babies. :)

  9. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    Love bok choy!

    I do this with regular cabbage all the time, but haven’t tried it with bok choy…

    yeah, baby!

  10. Manisha says:

    That cake in the first pic? Can’ Delicious would be an understatement!

  11. Lael Hazan @educatedpalate says:

    I adore baby bok choy although it is difficult to get where we live in Florida! I would REALLY like to go to your seminar. I’m going to see how to make that happen!

  12. Mrs Ergül says:

    I like to stir-fry my veges in a little oil, some garlic and some salt. easy peasy too. love the way you presented the bok choy!

  13. Ginger says:

    That baby bok choy sounds amazing – I cant to try… I wish I could attend the photography workshop unfortunately I already took my vac for the year and cant miss anymore work… Maybe next year

  14. Melissa says:

    Was going back and forth on whether to attend the F&L workshop, and I finally decided to register!

    I’m so, so excited!

    I can’t wait to meet you, Diane, Todd and Matt! Plus, my husband and I are looking forward to exploring Boulder!

  15. Pat says:

    Me? I’m enjoying the fact that Kaweah is ‘advising’ you on your photo shoot… ;-)

  16. farmerpam says:

    Bok choy is my favorite! Looks so good, I want some……

  17. Joy says:

    It amazes me with the amount of effort it takes. I finally got a decent set of lights. I love the recipe.

  18. jenyu says:

    Bing Chou – yeah, I saw the baby bok choy at Whole Foods the other day and was really underwhelmed :\

    Erin – xxoo :)

    Agnes – good luck, I know how difficult a slog it is.

    Nicole – when we sell out (only a few tix left) we’ll be sending out emails and lists to participants :)

    Christine – baby bok choy is my fav!!

    Manisha – I hope you shared with your family ;)

    Lael – We’d LOVE to have you, sweetie!!

    Mrs Ergul – same here. Also, the hearts are so pretty they kinda make their own plate.

    Melissa – great! We really look forward to working with you (and Boulder is so wonderful in summer!)

    Pat – yeah, she keeps us all in line here.

  19. Chris says:

    I run the produce dept at the Ft Collins Vitamin Cottage and I ALWAYS…that’s ALWAYS have great, fresh baby bok choy on hand. Enjoy your blog :)

  20. Ben says:

    1. Isn’t bok choy getting way too old when it starts yellowing and blooming in the middle?
    2. Try adding a pinch of sugar in addition to the salt. Amazing difference. And of course, serve with oyster sauce on the side

  21. Baby Bok Choy, Kidney Beans & Baby Portobello Mushrooms Over Polenta {recipe} #MeatlessMonday | Diva on a Diet says:

    […] taken a picture before I cooked them. Oops. So check out some amazing pictures of baby bok choy on Use Real Butter, where Jen actually talks about their food photography workshop…so yeah, the photos are […]

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