5 Cooking Methods for Chinese Cabbage

by Ella

Chinese cabbage, also known as Napa cabbage or “大白菜” (dà bái cài) in Mandarin, is a versatile and nutritious vegetable that is popular in Asian cuisine. With its mild flavor, crisp texture, and versatility in the kitchen, Chinese cabbage can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to soups to salads. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the different varieties of Chinese cabbage, how to select and store it, and various cooking methods to help you master the art of cooking Chinese cabbage.

Chinese Cabbage

Chinese cabbage is a member of the Brassica family, which also includes vegetables like broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts. It is characterized by its elongated shape, pale green color, and tightly packed leaves. There are several varieties of Chinese cabbage, but the two most common types are Napa cabbage and bok choy.


Napa Cabbage: Napa cabbage is the most widely recognized variety of Chinese cabbage. It has a cylindrical shape with tightly packed leaves and a slightly sweet flavor. Napa cabbage is commonly used in dishes such as stir-fries, soups, and kimchi.


Bok Choy: Bok choy, also known as Chinese white cabbage, has a more compact shape with thick white stems and dark green leaves. It has a mild, slightly peppery flavor and is often used in stir-fries, soups, and steamed dishes.


Both varieties of Chinese cabbage are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them a nutritious addition to any diet. They are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate, making them an excellent choice for promoting overall health and well-being.


Selecting and Storing Chinese Cabbage

When selecting Chinese cabbage, look for heads that are firm, heavy for their size, and free from blemishes or signs of wilting. The leaves should be crisp and tightly packed, with a vibrant green color. Avoid cabbage with yellowing or brown spots, as this may indicate age or spoilage.

Once you’ve chosen your Chinese cabbage, it’s important to store it properly to maintain its freshness and flavor. Here are some tips for storing Chinese cabbage:

Refrigeration: Chinese cabbage should be stored in the refrigerator to keep it crisp and fresh. Place the cabbage in a perforated plastic bag or wrap it in a damp paper towel to help retain moisture.

Temperature: Store Chinese cabbage in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator, where temperatures are slightly cooler and humidity levels are higher.

Air Circulation: Ensure that there is adequate air circulation around the cabbage to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to rotting. Avoid storing Chinese cabbage in a tightly sealed plastic bag, as this can trap moisture and promote spoilage.

Use Quickly: Chinese cabbage is best used within a few days of purchase to ensure optimal freshness and flavor. As it ages, the leaves may become wilted and less crisp, so it’s best to use it as soon as possible.

5 Cooking Methods for Chinese Cabbage

Chinese cabbage is incredibly versatile and can be cooked using a variety of methods, each of which brings out its unique flavor and texture. Here are some popular cooking methods for Chinese cabbage:

1. Stir-Frying: Stir-frying is a quick and easy way to cook Chinese cabbage while preserving its crisp texture and natural sweetness. Simply heat a wok or skillet over high heat, add a small amount of oil, and toss in chopped Chinese cabbage along with other ingredients such as garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Stir-fry for a few minutes until the cabbage is just wilted but still tender-crisp.

2. Steaming: Steaming is a gentle cooking method that retains the nutrients and natural flavor of Chinese cabbage. Simply place whole or chopped Chinese cabbage in a steamer basket or on a rack set over simmering water, cover, and steam for 5-7 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender.

3. Boiling: Boiling Chinese cabbage is another simple cooking method that softens the leaves and brings out their sweetness. To boil Chinese cabbage, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add chopped cabbage, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Drain the cabbage and serve as a side dish or add it to soups and stews.

4. Braising: Braising is a slow-cooking method that results in tender, flavorful Chinese cabbage. To braise Chinese cabbage, start by searing the cabbage in a hot pan to develop color and flavor. Then, add liquid such as broth or soy sauce, cover, and simmer gently until the cabbage is tender and infused with the cooking liquid.

5. Raw: Chinese cabbage can also be enjoyed raw in salads and slaws, where its crisp texture and mild flavor shine. Simply shred or thinly slice Chinese cabbage and toss it with other ingredients such as carrots, bell peppers, and a flavorful dressing.

Recipe: Stir-Fried Napa Cabbage with Garlic and Soy Sauce

To showcase the versatility of Chinese cabbage, here’s a simple and delicious recipe for stir-fried Napa cabbage with garlic and soy sauce:


  • 1 head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: sliced green onions, sesame seeds, chili flakes


Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add thinly sliced Napa cabbage to the skillet and toss to coat with the garlic-infused oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until the cabbage is just wilted but still crisp-tender, about 3-5 minutes.

Drizzle soy sauce over the cabbage and continue to stir-fry for another minute, until the cabbage is evenly coated with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the stir-fried Napa cabbage from the heat and transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with sliced green onions, sesame seeds, and chili flakes, if desired.

Serve the stir-fried Napa cabbage hot as a side dish or as part of a larger meal. Enjoy!

See Also: Chinese Cabbage: Selection, Storage, Preparation & Cooking


Chinese cabbage is a versatile and nutritious vegetable that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to soups to salads. By selecting high-quality cabbage, storing it properly, and experimenting with different cooking methods, you can unlock the full potential of this delicious and versatile ingredient. Whether you prefer the crisp texture of stir-fried cabbage or the tender sweetness of braised cabbage, there’s no shortage of ways to incorporate Chinese cabbage into your culinary repertoire. So why not pick up a head of Chinese cabbage on your next trip to the market and explore the endless possibilities in the kitchen? Your taste buds will thank you!



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