Napa Cabbage Recipes: Crunchy and Savory

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Napa cabbage might not be the sexiest vegetable out there—or the prettiest to look at—but as cruciferous veggies go, Napa cabbage will certainly help you stick to your New Year’s resolution diet. Napa cabbage, unlike the bulbous sibling to iceberg let
Napa cabbage might not be the sexiest vegetable out there—or the prettiest to look at—but as cruciferous veggies go, Napa cabbage will certainly help you stick to your New Year’s resolution diet.

Napa cabbage, unlike the bulbous sibling to iceberg lettuce, is a Chinese cabbage with an oblong head and tightly packed, pale green to white crinkled leaves. Napa cabbage is a versatile vegetable, this cabbage has crinkly, thickly veined leaves and a mild and sweet taste—like a cross between cabbage, iceberg lettuce, and celery. While a lot of people associate Napa cabbage with Asian dishes, there are a variety of ways you can use it in your favorite recipes.

>>Napa Cabbage Cole Slaw Recipe

Korean Napa Cabbage Kimchee kimchi.jpg

Kimchee is practically the official food of Korea and you wouldn’t wonder why if you’d tasted this spicy, pickled cabbage dish that so many families rely on as the go-to side dish, lunch, or quick dinner option. You can make your own using fresh Napa cabbage for a filling meal that might even help you slim down this year.

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pickling salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 pounds Chinese (Napa) cabbage, cut into 2-inch squares
  • 6 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths, then slivered
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Korean ground dried hot pepper (or other mildly hot ground red pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  1. Dissolve the 3 tablespoons salt in the water; put the cabbage into a large bowl, a crock, or a nonreactive pot, and pour the brine over it; weigh the cabbage down with a plate; let the cabbage stand for 12-hours.
  2. Drain the cabbage, reserving the brine; mix the cabbage with the remaining ingredients, including the 1 teaspoon salt; pack the mixture into a 2-quart jar; pour enough of the reserved brine over the cabbage to cover it; push a freezer bag into the mouth of the jar, and pour the remaining brine into the bag; seal the bag. Let the kimchi ferment in a cool place, at a temperature no higher than 68 degrees F, for 3 to 6 days, until the kimchi is as sour as you like.
  3. Remove the brine bag, and cap the jar tightly. Store the kimchi in the refrigerator, where it will keep for months. Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.

Strawberry & Spring Roll Salad

If the weather outside is frightful, you probably need something to brighten your spirits. This fresh, crunchy, colorful spring roll salad will make you feel like it’s spring already, regardless of how much snow is on the ground. 


  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • 1 cup cooked arborio rice, at room temperature
  • 1 green onion, minced
  • 1/3 cup diced water chestnuts (get them in an Asian grocery store, or in the Asian foods section of any supermarket)
  • 1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger (get it in gourmet stores, or any well-stocked grocery store)
  • 1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 8. 8-inch diameter rice paper rounds (again, Asian grocery stores)
  • 2 cups shredded Chinese (also known as Napa) cabbage (use a large grater)
  • 1 cup torn watercress leaves
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon strawberry preserves
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger root
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Black sesame seeds for garnish

  1. Combine strawberries and next 5 ingredients until well mixed. Fill a large bowl with hot water and set aside.
  2. Place 1 rice paper round in the water until softened, about 30 seconds; remove rice paper from the water and place on a towel; pat dry; repeat with the rest of the rice paper. Divide the strawberry filling among the rice paper rounds, placing it in the center of each round; fold in the sides and roll up each round tightly.
  3. Combine the cabbages and watercress and place on a platter. Cut each strawberry roll in half (cut on a diagonal). Whisk together dressing ingredients until well-blended. Toss the greens with 1/2 the dressing. Arrange the cut strawberry rolls on the greens and drizzle with the rest of the dressing. Garnish with black sesame seeds and fresh strawberries.

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Saladvietnamese-rice-noodle-salad.jpg

Cool noodle salads have a reputation for being perfect for the ultimate summer suppers, but in reality, they’re delicious any time of the year. Napa cabbage is delicious in a crunchy noodle salad packed with vegetables, fresh lime juice, and dried rice noodles. You might want to double the recipe because your family might not leave enough for you to have seconds.


  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce or salt
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1, 12-ounce package dried rice noodles
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 4 leaves Napa cabbage
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint


  1. Combine garlic, cilantro, and pepper in a small bowl; mix in lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar; let rest for 5 minutes to combine flavors.
  2. Cook noodles in a pot of salted boiling water until tender, about 2 minutes; drain well. Rinse under cold water and drain well.
  3. Place noodles in a serving bowl and mix with carrots, cucumber, mint, and cabbage; drizzle with sauce and gently toss; chill until ready to serve. Top salad with peanuts and fresh mint.

Martin Yan’s Cabbage Meatballscabbage_meatballs.jpg

If you’re a dedicated omnivore, there are plenty of ways to have your meat and your healthy veggies. Steaming meatballs is a healthier alternative to pan frying and this dish combines steamed pork meatballs with cabbage and Portobello mushroom caps for the best of both worlds.

  • 1/4 cup dried shrimp
  • 1/2 pound ground pork or chicken
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon chopped water chestnuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped Sichuan preserved vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster flavored sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2-ounces dried bean thread noodles
  • 2 small Napa cabbages
  • 4 medium Portobello mushrooms, stems discarded
  • Blanched chives for garnish
  • Thinly sliced red bell pepper for garnish


  1. Soak dried shrimp in warm water to cover until softened, about 20 minutes, drain and coarsely chop.
  2. To make meatballs combine shrimp, pork (or chicken), stock, water chestnuts, green onion, preserved vegetables, cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil in a large bowl and mix well; cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Soak bean thread noodles in warm water to cover until softened, about 5 minutes; drain and cut in half.
  3. Remove outer leaves of cabbages until their diameters are 2 1/2 to 3-inches; trim bases to flatten. Cut tops of leaves off to make cases 2 1/2 to 3-inches high; remove inner leaves to create an area for stuffing (save trimmings for another use). Spoon half of meatball filling into each cabbage case and tie kitchen twine around cases to secure.
  4. Prepare a wok for steaming. Place noodles in a heatproof dish; place mushrooms, gill sides up, on noodles. Stand stuffed cabbages on dish on steaming rack; cover and steam until cabbage is tender and filling is barely pink, about 30 minutes. Remove twine and replace with blanched chives before serving. Garnish with bell pepper.