While it looks a lot like your regular green cabbage, napa cabbage is anything but. Napa cabbage is a crispy and crunchy Asian vegetable with a long, oval shape compared to the round, green cabbage found on produce shelves.
If you've tried your hand at Asian cuisine before, then you've probably seen napa cabbage mentioned at least once. With its distinct taste, it's considered a staple in many Asian recipes, with a texture similar to celery and bok choy. By a "slim" margin, napa cabbage is also healthier than ordinary cabbage, with more protein and fewer calories overall.
From Asian recipes to quick topping ideas, here are 10 things to do with napa cabbage.
Warm up with a hearty bowl of napa cabbage soup. Add a few cups of chopped napa cabbage to your favorite vegetable, chicken or beef soup; it will give your soup a lot of body and for fewer calories than most other ingredients.
More: Asian pasta salad
Instead of using green cabbage, try some of the larger, outer leaves of napa cabbage. Cut them in half, steam or boil them until they just turn soft, and then fill with a mixture of cooked white rice and browned mild sausage or hamburger. Top with tomato sauce, and bake until bubbly.
Traditionally tacos are topped with a healthy handful of lettuce. A better choice is napa cabbage, which is more flavorful and totes a crisper texture, which contrasts nicely with the taco fillings.
Kimchee is a spicy Korean side dish, sort of like the hottest coleslaw you've ever eaten. Traditional kimchee can take several days to make. However, for a quick at-home version, combine a few cups of chopped napa cabbage, a tablespoon of sambal oelek (an Eastern hot sauce), 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, 4 sliced garlic cloves and a healthy pinch of salt. Stir well, chill overnight, and then eat right out of the bowl!
For a quick and easy side dish, add the cut-up white stems of the napa cabbage to a skillet, and cover them halfway with vegetable broth, ground ginger, garlic powder and a few teaspoons of soy sauce. Cook over medium heat for 8 – 10 minutes or until the napa cabbage becomes soft.
Next up: Napa cabbage stir-fry
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