Chinese cabbage—Also called Napa cabbage–can be cooked like any leafy green, but it works particularly well in Asian salads and spring rolls. Another way to use it is to roast it—tear it into large piece, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread it in a pan or on a cookie sheet. Roast in 400 degree oven for about five minutes until it begins to brown; then remove from the oven—it will become browner and crisper as it rests. If you leave it in the oven longer, the ribs will become softer and tastier, but the leaves will burn (I know, I just tried it). If you want, you can separate the leaves and ribs and roast them separately. You can intensify the flavor by seasoning the olive oil before tossing with the cabbage; slowly sauté a few cloves of garlic or garlicscape, an onion, and your favorite herbs in the oil, letting the flavor develop over 10-15 minutes.
SPICY CHINESE CABBAGE STIR FRY
Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman, New Yotk Times
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 star anise, broken in half (optional)
2 teaspoons soy sauce (more to taste)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or dry sherry
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1 small Chinese cabbage, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds, shredded
1 medium carrot, cut into julienne
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons minced chives, Chinese chives or cilantro
Combine the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and star anise in a small bowl. Combine the soy sauce and wine or sherry in another small bowl.
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in the oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and tilting it back and forth. Add the garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and star anise. Stir-fry for a few seconds, just until fragrant, then add the cabbage and carrots. Stir-fry for one to two minutes until the cabbage begins to wilt, then add the salt and wine/soy sauce mixture. Cover and cook over high heat for one minute until just wilted. Uncover and stir-fry for another 30 seconds, then stir in the chives or cilantro and remove from the heat. The cabbage should be crisp-tender. Serve with rice or noodles.
Chinese cabbage is a favorite ingredient in spring rolls. Shred the cabbage and mix two cups of shredded cabbage with a cup of rice or cellophane noodles, a tablespoon or soy sauce, other vegetables such as sautéed mushrooms, strings beans, or squash. Add diced shrimp or other meat if you like. Mix in a tablespoon on Szechuan or Hoison sauce, or your favorite seasoning and mix until everything is blended and sticks together. Wrap in wonton wrappers (there are pictures on the package showing you how) and bake or fry per the package directions. Or—you can can use the cabbage leaves as a simpler wrapper. Save some large leaves; fold them in half lengthwise, so that the thick rib is in the center. Place the filling on the rib and fold the leafy part around the rib to make a little packet. I’ve found that some kids (not all of them) like these packets and will eat things inside them that they would not otherwise consider.
CHINESE CABBAGE SALADS
NAPA with NOODLES and ALMONDS
1 head napa cabbage
1 bunch minced green onions
1/3 cup butter
1 (3 ounce) package ramen noodles, broken
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
½ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Finely shred the head of cabbage; do not chop. Combine the green onions and cabbage in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Make the crunchies: Melt the butter in a pot. Mix the ramen noodles, sesame seeds and almonds into the pot with the melted butter. Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet and bake the crunchies in the preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven, turning often to make sure they do not burn. When they are browned remove them from the oven.
Make the dressing: In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, oil, sugar, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, let boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat and let cool.
Combine dressing, crunchies, and cabbage immediately before serving. Serve right away or the crunchies will get soggy.
CHINESE CABBAGE AND TOFU SALAD WITH SESAME DRESSING
From: Deborah Madison
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/2 large jalapeño, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tahini (sesame paste)
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 pound soft tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups finely shredded Chinese or Napa cabbage (about 1/2 large head)
2 cups spinach leaves, finely shredded (see Note)
1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
1 medium kohlrabi or small jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
5 large radishes, cut into matchsticks
1 large carrot, shaved into thin curls with a vegetable peeler
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds or toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish
Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a mini food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a gentle simmer. Add salt. Put half of the tofu in a small strainer and ease it into the water. Simmer over moderate heat for 2 minutes, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining tofu.
On a large platter or individual plates, arrange the tofu, Napa cabbage, spinach, red cabbage, kohlrabi, radishes and carrot strips. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the dressing over the tofu or pass it separately. Garnish with the sesame seeds and serve.
Make Ahead The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Notes To finely shred spinach leaves (make a chiffonade), simply stack and roll the leaves, then cut them crosswise into thin strips with a sharp knife.
Easy Kimchi Recipe
Another great recipe from Viveca! She says, “When we get more cabbage or daikon this summer, kimchi is also a great use of all three! This makes a ton, but is easily halved if you want less! I like using other vegetables, like brussels sprouts or bok choi too if you have them on hand.”
1 napa cabbage
1/2 cup kosher salt
About 12 cups cold water
8 ounces daikon radish, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
4 medium scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (use all parts)
1/3 cup Gochugaru (This is a sweet/hot Korean chili powder; you can substitute crushed red pepper (use about half or mix it with smoked paprika; or other chili powder mixes, such as ancho and aleppo. Kalustyan, and other Asian markets, have gochugaru in stock.)
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic cloves
2 teaspoons dried shrimp (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2-inch pieces, discarding the root end. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and toss with your hands until the cabbage is coated. Add enough cold water to just cover, making sure the cabbage is mostly submerged. Cover with plastic wrap or a baking sheet and let sit at room temperature at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
Place a colander in the sink, drain the cabbage, and rinse with cold water. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid and transfer to a medium bowl; set aside.
Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the cabbage and toss with your hands until evenly combined and the cabbage is thoroughly coated with the mixture. (Highly recommended to use gloves for this portion!)
Pack the mixture tightly into a clean 2-quart or 2-liter glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and seal the jar.