Grilled bok choy can be one of the easiest and healthiest side dishes, but is often forgotten about! The mild bitterness of bok choy is highlighted with toasted sesame oil, a light char from the grill, and a bit of sweetness from sweet chili sauce.
What is Bok Choy?
Also referred to as “Chinese cabbage” but different than Napa Cabbage (which is lighter green and looks more similar to an oblong version of the green or red cabbage you’re probably more familiar with). Bok choy has thick white stalks that fan out into dark green leaves. It’s actually quite beautiful in the way it looks, and the entire plant can be eaten.
The stalks are reminiscent of celery in a way, although not stringy, but with a big crunch. The leaves are similar to lettuce.
Where to Buy
For this recipe you can either use the large bok choy or baby bok choy, really whatever you can find. Obviously if you have an Asian grocery you love near you, this would be the ideal place, but I can often find this at grocery stores that tend to carry specialty items like Whole Foods, Central Market, and Fresh Market.
Trader Joe’s actually has perfectly packaged baby bok choy, in a red and clear bag that you can find in the refrigerated vegetable section. It usually contains 3 pieces and is typically what I use for this recipe.
Although going dairy free or even vegetarian are not a requirement for those following a migraine diet, some people choose to do it because of personal preferences or individual allergies. Without the ability to consume dairy, sometimes calcium can take a hit.
Bok choy is full of calcium and magnesium which can aid in maintaining good bone health. According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, 1 cup of uncooked bok choy, weighing 70 grams contains 74mg of calcium, 176mg of potassium, and 13mg of magnesium.
Potassium, which is most-commonly associated with bananas, can be found in some greens and potatoes. Since bananas are to be avoided during an elimination period for a migraine diet, this is a great way to get some extra potassium if that’s a concern for you.
Choline is also found in bok choy, making it a great way to reduce inflammation naturally. It can also help with sleep and memory function, two things which can be impaired by a migraine disorder.
You can easily chop up and sauté bok choy in stir-fry, but one of my favorite ways to cook it is by grilling. It’s so simple and allows the flavors to really shine. Grilled bok choy doesn’t need a ton of heavy seasoning, just something to give it a little pizzaz.
You can either use an outdoor charcoal grill, gas grill, or indoor grill pan over medium high heat. These grill FAST. You do want a bit of a char, but not for the whole thing to burn.
If you have a grilling basket, that can help so the stalks don’t fall below the grill grates, but I rarely have this issue if I just trim a few rouge pieces.
You’ll close the grill and allow the stalks to soften while getting some nice grill marks, about 3-4 minutes. Then you’ll flip and do the same on the opposite side.
The best part? This only has two additional ingredients:
Ok and salt and pepper...but those are gimmes right? My favorite migraine-friendly brand of sweet chili sauce is Pretty Thai, which is totally additive-free. While you can order it on Amazon, it's much more cost-effective to order directly through Pretty Thai. Can't find sweet chili cause? Check the recipe for a substitute.
I have a few really wonderful recipes coming like Teriyaki Salmon and Healthy Mongolian Beef that I love serving these grilled bok choy alongside, but for now here are a few ideas below.
Grilled Bok Choy
- 2 bok choy, cut in half Baby bok choy will also work
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce *see substitutions in notes
- kosher salt and pepper
- Cut bok choy in half and brush both sides with toasted sesame oil. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and pepper.
- Preheat grill to medium high heat and place diagonally on grill grates, making sure leaves don't drop below the grates. (Watch out cause dripping oil may cause flares) Cover and grill for 3-4 minutes until grill marks form, then flip and cook another 3-4 minutes, covered, until bok choy stems are softened, but not too charred. If using larger bok choy, cook about 5 minutes per side.
- Place grilled bok choy on a sheet pan and brush both sides with sweet chili sauce. Serve warm.
- If you can't find a good sweet chili sauce, use 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos and 1 clove of garlic instead. Mix these two with the sesame oil and brush on the bok choy before you grill, and again after you're done grilling.