Boiling or steaming bok choy often results in a watery, stringy vegetable. But grilling halved heads of bok choy slathered with miso butter leads to pure flavor. Be sure to keep the heat at medium so the paste can cara-melize without burning.
My first few attempts at grilling bok choy (I used Shanghai bok choy) resulted in charred leaves that were too crisp to enjoy. Now I separate the leaves from the stalks and use them raw in a salad that wilts under the heat of the grilled vegetable.
Use white or yellow miso paste in this recipe. If you use a darker miso, know that it will be saltier. Make this side dish when you are already firing up the grill for the main course.
Grilled Baby Bok Choy With Miso Butter
- 1 1⁄2 pounds baby bok choy (about 6 heads) or Shanghai bok choy
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons white or yellow miso paste (more info below)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Cut the leaves away from the bok choy stalks. Halve the stalks lengthwise. Rinse the leaves and stalks well, then pat dry to remove any excess water. In a small bowl, mix together the butter and miso with a fork until well combined. Set aside.
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal or gas grill. Put the bok choy stalks in a large bowl. Using your hands (or a fork), coat the bok choy with the miso butter. Arrange the bok choy, cut side down, on the grill grate. (If you have a grill screen, set it on top of the grate before adding the bok choy, to keep the stalks from falling through the gaps.)
Close the lid and grill for about 5 minutes, until golden brown on the underside. Turn the bok choy with tongs, re-cover, and grill for 5 to 6 minutes more, until golden and crisp-tender.
While the stalks are cooking, stack the bok choy leaves and roll them up lengthwise into a cigar shape. Slice the leaves crosswise into thin shreds. Make a bed of the shredded leaves on a serving platter. Drizzle the leaves with the oil and lemon juice, sprinkle with the salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and toss to combine. Put the grilled bok choy on the dressed salad to wilt the leaves; sprinkle additional pepper over the bok chou.
A fermented paste that can range from sweet and mild to salty and pungent, miso is most commonly made from soybeans and rice, though some types include barley or other grains. There are three basic types of miso: white miso is the mildest and sweetest, yellow miso is earthier and lightly salty, and red miso is typically quite salty and strong flavored.
Look for miso packaged in small plastic tubs or sturdy bags in the refrigerated section of grocery stores and Asian markets, often near the tofu. It will keep refrigerated for up to six months
Reprinted with permission from Brassicas by Laura B. Russell (Ten Speed Press, © 2014).
Photo credit: Sang An