Turn the ramen in your pantry into Baby Bok Choy Salad, a crunchy, good-for-you recipe loaded with vegetables, almonds, toasted noodles, and a killer sesame soy dressing. Faster to make than a bok choy stir fry, this salad is hands-down fantastic for parties or just lunch for the week.
The great part about bok choy slaw or salad is that it stays crisp longer than any lettuce, so it’s perfect for big gatherings and lots of grazing. It has a mild flavor, too, which highlights any bold, Asian-style vinaigrette.
And in case you find yourself overstocked on grocery store ramen noodles, well, this might be the perfect recipe for using them up.Like all the best recipes, you can add and subtract what you see fit. If you can’t find baby bok choy, use finely chopped cabbage, Napa cabbage, or even a bagged coleslaw mix. The sesame dressing will prevail, bringing all the flavors and textures together!
What is bok choy?
Also known as pak choi, pot choi, or Chinese cabbage, Bok Choy is a cruciferous vegetable in the mustard family–just like broccoli, turnips, kale, and cabbage!
True bok choy has firm white stalks and deep dark green leaves, and can grow to a pretty large size. Baby bok choy is technically a different variety–Shanghai bok choy–that has light green stalks, spoon-shaped soft leaves, and stays small.
Just like its cruciferous family members, the whole plant is edible. You can eat any type of bok choy raw in salads, or cooked, in stir frys.
How to Clean and Store Baby Bok Choy:
The easiest way to clean Baby Bok Choy is to treat it like a bunch of celery. Trim off and discard the end of the bulb and separate the stalks. Then rinse the stalks in cool water, carefully brushing away any sand or dirt on the leaves.
Then use it right away, or wrap in paper towels and store for up to a week in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
Slice the stalks in the same manner as you would slice celery, using the entire stalk– including the leaves at the top.
What you need to make bok choy salad:
Don’t worry–there are lots of good substitutions for ingredients in this salad, if you don’t have exactly what the recipe calls for.
- Baby bok choy. Usually found sold in big bags at Asian markets. Use mature bok choy (Chinese cabbage) or Nappa cabbage instead.
- Ramen noodles. Curly, raw ramen noodles, right out of the package. And no, you don’t need the seasoning packet for this recipe.
- Sliced almonds. I like the blanched, sliced kind (without skins), but skin-on almonds or slivered almonds are fine, too.
- Olive oil. Just a little for pan-toasting the noodles and almonds. You can also oven bake the noodles/nuts/seeds, too. There’s an option below.
Other fun ingredients:
- Sliced red bell pepper.
- Celery, chopped on the bias.
- Chow mein noodles.
- Mandarin orange segments.
- Shredded carrots.
For the sesame dressing:
- Light brown sugar. As always, if you’re watching your sugar intake, feel free to use less.
- Olive oil. Some readers switch out a little of the olive oil for toasted sesame oil, which boosts the nutty flavor.
- Red wine vinegar. If you don’t have it, don’t worry. Use lemon juice, cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or white vinegar instead.
- Sesame seeds. Raw sesame seeds, or toasted. See the notes below for toasting your own!
- Soy sauce. Going gluten free? Use GF soy sauce, coconut aminos, or liquid aminos instead.
Making the Bok Choy Salad dressing:
This homemade sesame soy dressing is almost drinkable it’s so good, but if you need a salad NOW, go ahead and use your favorite bottled brand. I’ve heard good things about Kewpie Roasted Sesame dressing, Costco’s Sesame dressing, and Paul Newman’s Sesame Thai dressing. But really, anything with a sesame, soy, or ginger component will taste great.
The homemade dressing can be made in advance and stored in a jar in the refrigerator.
To make the sesame dressing, add the brown sugar, oil (olive oil, or a toasted sesame oil), vinegar, sesame seeds, and soy sauce to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Close the lid and give the jar a little shake to mix. Keep out at room temperature while making the salad, so the flavors have a chance to blend together.
How to make Baby Bok Choy Salad:
- First, pan toast the crushed ramen noodles and almonds with a small amount of olive oil in a skillet on the stove until toasted and brown. This step keeps the noodles crispier, longer.
Alternatively, you can spread out the almonds, ramen, and even the sesame seeds (if raw) on a baking sheet–no oil needed– and toast in the oven at 350 degrees. Give the ingredients a stir every 5 to 10 minutes until toasty. This technique is hands-free so you can prep your veggies, too!
- After cooking, let the crunchy mixture cool to room temperature before mixing with the cold vegetables.
- Meanwhile, chop up the bok choy and scallions (as well as any other fun, fresh ingredients) and add them to a big bowl. Then add the ramen noodles and almonds. Drizzle the dressing of your choice over the salad, and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately at room temperature.
Make ahead Bok Choy Salad:
- Make the salad dressing several days in advance.
- After you toast the noodles and nuts, let them cool and store them in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 6 months, or a zippered freezer bag in the freezer for up to a year.
- Chop the vegetables the night before you need them, but store them in separate containers and combine them just before the final toss.
Gluten-free bok choy salad:
To make the salad completely gluten-free, switch out the soy sauce for your favorite substitute, such as coconut aminos or GF soy sauce. Then make the salad without the ramen noodles, and be sure to add some extra vegetables!
Baby Bok Choy Salad with Sesame Dressing
For the sesame dressing:
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
For the salad:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 package ramen noodles crumbled, seasoning packet discarded (see notes for vegan information)
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1 bunch baby bok choy sliced (5 – 6 bulbs)
- 5 scallions chopped
- To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, olive oil, vinegar, sesame seeds, and soy sauce. Allow flavors to blend at room temperature while preparing the rest of the salad.
- In a large sauce pan over medium heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Reduce heat to low. Add ramen noodles and almonds; sauté until toasted, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.
- In a large bowl, combine baby bok choy, scallions, and crunchy mix. Drizzle salad dressing over the top and toss until uniformly combined. Serve at room temperature.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the sesame seeds until golden brown and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a plate to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the pantry for 6 months or freezer storage bag in the freezer for up to 1 year.
- Mix Sesame Dressing and store covered in the refrigerator.
- The baby bok choy and scallions may be chopped and store separately in containers in the refrigerator.
- The crunchy mix may be toasted ahead of time, cooled, and stored at room temperature.
- I recommend that you prep the ingredients no more than 1 day ahead of time.
- Leave out the ramen noodles
- Substitute GF soy sauce
- Choose Top Ramen brand ramen noodles which are 100% vegan.