Bright green napa cabbage is so eye-catching, yet most of us probably stroll by every time we see a head hanging out in the produce section. Why? Because we aren't really sure what the heck to do with it. If your interest in napa cabbage has been piqued, we've got good news. It's actually really versatile — not to mention that it packs a pretty heavy nutritional punch.
With a texture somewhere between celery and bok choy, you really can't go wrong using napa cabbage in these tasty recipes.
1. Napa cabbage soup
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.
2. Napa cabbage rolls
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.
3. Napa cabbage taco topping
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.
4. Quick kimchee
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!
5. Braised napa cabbage
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
Originally published July 2009. Updated July 2017.
6. Napa cabbage stir-fry
If you have eaten a Chinese dish with vegetables, you have probably eaten napa cabbage. Typically they are white squares that look like they should be onions but have not turned clear. To do your own napa cabbage stir-fry, peel off 20 – 25 leaves, and cut off the leafy green sections until all you have are the firmer white stems. Cut the white stems into 2-inch pieces. Heat some peanut oil in a wok, cook the napa cabbage for 3 – 4 minutes, until it starts to soften, and then add your favorite stir-fry sauce. Cook until the sauce starts to bubble. Serve hot over rice.
7. Napa cabbage spring rolls
Napa cabbage has a great crunch that's perfect for spring rolls. Simply slice napa cabbage into thin strips, and roll with cooked shrimp, rice noodles and fresh basil in a spring roll wrapper. Serve with a dipping sauce of soy sauce, chilies and fish sauce.
8. Napa cabbage slaw
Got a favorite coleslaw recipe? Try it with shredded napa cabbage. Napa cabbage slaw has a subtly different flavor and texture than classic coleslaw and is particularly tasty if you add fruit. For your next slaw, combine 2 cups of diced mango, a finely diced jalapeño, 1 cup of mayonnaise, 2 cups of shredded napa cabbage and 4 tablespoons of rice or red wine vinegar. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight, and serve.
9. Napa cabbage salad
Spicy Vietnamese chicken, Thai chilies and a touch of cilantro make this napa cabbage dish extra delicious. The spicy chicken and cabbage salad, also called goi ga, can be made in a large batch for a party or halved to serve as a family meal at home. This is also the perfect dish to refrigerate and enjoy as a quickie lunch throughout the week.
10. Napa cabbage fried rice
Cool and crunchy, napa cabbage can help balance out the flavors of any fried rice. While this fried rice recipe calls for green cabbage, we prefer using napa instead. You can also swap brown rice for white to make an even healthier main dish.