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Cabbage and Bok Choy-any difference in flavor?

Cabbage is so much less expensive than bok choy at the supermarket-I have had both in chinese recipes but can't tell any taste difference.

Is there any?

Also what about baby bok choy? (they just look yummy and less fibrous but are a bit expensive)

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  1. Big difference in texture and flavor in my opinion.

    But if you can't taste any difference. you should use what makes economic sense to you.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gnomatic

      the difference in price where I shop is miniscule

      Maybe I am not cooking bok choy properly to taste the difference?

    2. Bok choy seems to have more moisture and be a little bitter compared to cabbage. They differ greatly in texture experienced in a dish.

      I'm not a purist - use whichever you think works best.

      1. I definitely notice a difference in taste and texture. I can also notice the difference between different types of cabbage, though.

        But if you can't tell, go with what is cheaper.

        1. There is a pretty big difference between western cabbages and bok choy to me, less so between Chinese/napa cabbage and bok choy.

          4 Replies
          1. re: hannaone

            Yes, that's what I think also. In fact to me bok choy is sweeter than western cabbage and so is napa. I absolutely love the baby bok choy!

            1. re: hannaone

              <big difference between western cabbages and bok choy to me, less so between Chinese/napa cabbage and bok choy.>


              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                ChemK, just so you know - the new "recommend" box is a way of +1ing without readers being drawn back to the thread when no new content has been added. Click on it to register your endorsement. When the cursor is floated above the recommend button, the user names of the recommenders appear.

                1. re: greygarious

                  I see. I notice it, but old habits are hard to break. Thanks for the notification.

            2. Cook the baby bok choy whole. It should be noticeably different in texture if nothing else. I find a big difference in taste.

              1. Bok choy, either size, will be cheaper at an Asian market if you have a convenient one.

                1. I use both, and I see noticeable difference between the two. Of course, you will need to define what cabbage vs what Bok Choy.

                  To some Chinese (especially Cantonese), this is Bok Choy:


                  To others, this is Bok Choy:



                  <Also what about baby bok choy? (they just look yummy and less fibrous but are a bit expensive)>

                  Exactly what you said. They are the young version of bok choy, thus more tender and more expensive.

                  P.S.: The definition of "baby" bok choy is different in an Asian supermarket/Chinatown vs a western typical supermarket.

                  A lot of so-called baby bok choy in typical supermarkets are considered to be normal size bok choy in Chinatown. Chinese definition of baby bok choy is smaller. These are two photos of baby bok choy according to Chinese:



                  They are usually like 1.5-2.5 inch in length.

                  1. The flavors and textures are like night and day to me. but if it doesn't make a difference to you, get the cheapest one.

                    1. There's a huge difference in both texture & flavor between regular cabbage & bok choy. In addition, there are quite a few different varieties of bok choy out there, & they all have differences in flavor as well.

                      While the different varieties of bok choy are interchangeable, I don't consider regular cabbage a suitable substitute when bok choy is called for.

                      1. now i have to get some bok choy and really pay attention to the differences-the one we have at the supermarket is a huge vegetable with thick white stalks

                        Thanks for all the help-interesting stuff

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: madeliner

                          <the one we have at the supermarket is a huge vegetable with thick white stalks>

                          I have seen those. Interestingly, you actually won't see many of those in Asian supermarkets nor Chinatowns.

                          1. It might be helpful if you described what you know as "bok choy". To some, it's also known as "Shanghai cabbage", while to others, it's nappa (or Napa, even though it doesn't come from Napa) cabbage. Part of the reason is that in Chinese, the name can be loosely translated as "white leafy vegetable".

                            What *I* know as "bok choy" is the Shanghai cabbage variety, and it sometimes has a mustard-y flavor that is quite nice.

                            1. To me, bok choy has both a crunchier texture, when cooked, and a sharper taste with hints of something in the mustard family.

                              1. You should find a difference in flavor if you are careful in preparation. Bok choy has a bitter, mustard, almost endive like quality, and it has three different textures according to what part you cook. Baby bok choy allows you to cook it all at once instead of parts, and has less of the mustard bitter flavor. Cabbage is many types with a variety of milder flavors and less fibrous texture, so it cooks softer, faster. The prices in the local Korean market where I am are substantially lower than the chain supermarket.

                                As with many things, the taste difference may seem subtle and not worth the trouble to you, but I suggest you get several different cabbages, some bok choy, some mustard greens, and steam them without any seasoning and do a taste test slowly. You should find some subtle differences. Then you can decide it hunting one of the other is worth the trouble to you,