Chinese Cabbage Recipes

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Brown Rice and Chinese Cabbage


This simple combination of brown rice, sesame, and Chinese cabbage is far superior to any fried rice you’ve ever had.  It is so good, in fact, that you will be tempted to have it as a meal unto itself served with a few savory sides, such as Kimchi, Red Cooked Cabbage, or Celery and Cabbage Salad.  We’ve adapted this recipe from one presented in the 2009 “Martha Stewart's Dinner at Home” cookbook (ISBN 978-0307396457).  

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups chinese cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 rounded tablespoon minced ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups brown rice
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium.  Add in cabbage, ginger, and garlic and sauté until the cabbage is wilted, about 5 minutes.  Remove mixture from pan. 

Add in remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, heat to medium, and add in rice.  Toss to coat the grains evenly with oil and toast over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.  Add in water and salt.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a low simmer, and cook until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the water, about 45-50 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Toss the cooked rice with the cabbage mixture, rice vinegar, sesame seeds and sesame oil and immediately serve.


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Celery and Chinese Cabbage Salad


Here Chinese cabbage and celery are tossed in a savory/spicy mustard-based dressing to make for a very unusual but also very tasty salad.  This recipe, typical of northern China but almost unknown in North America, is adapted from one presented by Kenneth H.C. Lo in his excellent 1974 “Chinese Vegetarian Cooking” (ISBN 978-0394706399).  Note that you’ll probably want to make this dish a day ahead of serving as the mustard in the dressing is initially very powerful.  However, as it sits in contact with the air, the mustard oils dissipate.   It is excellent when used as a topping to cooked rice

1 lb Chinese cabbage, washed and cut into 2x2” pieces
¾ lb celery, washed and cut diagonally into ½” thick slices
1½ tablespoons mustard powder
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chili oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
½ tablespoon sesame oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the cabbage and celery for 3 minutes.  Drain, rinse under cold water, and allow to drain. 

Whisk mustard powder with water to form a smooth paste.  Whisk in remaining ingredients and toss with blanched cabbage and celery.  Cover and let marinade for at least 3 hours before serving.  The longer the salad marinades the less hot the sauce will be.


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Hot & Sour Bok Choy

This is a quick and easy way to cook any Chinese ‘cabbage’, a vegetable which is actually more closely related to turnip.  It is as good cold as it is hot.  Szechwan peppercorns are the aromatic fruits of a bush in citrus family, and are available at any oriental market.  Grind them using a clean coffee or spice mill, or in a mortal and pestle.  If you can’t find any, you can substitute coarsely ground white or black peppercorns; the dish will be just as authentic (some versions actually call for pepper), though the flavor will be a little different.

5 tablespoons oil
3 dried small hot chiles 
½ teaspoon Szechwan peppercorns, coarsely ground
1 Chinese cabbage, cut into 1 inch dice
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ teaspoon sesame oil

Heat wok; add oil and let come to a moderate temperature.  Add chiles, stir for a few seconds, then add ground peppercorns.  Increase heat to high; add cabbage; stir fry for 3 minutes.  Add rest of ingredients, toss together, and serve.


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Perhaps the most iconic dish in the Korean cuisine is kimchi.  This spicy ferment of various vegetables (most often bok choy) is eaten at every meal, with the average Korean consuming 40 pounds per year.  Kimchi often reflects the season at which it is produced.  In the spring, kimchi is made of fresh potherbs and vegetables and tends to not be fermented.  In the summer, kimchi is made with radishes, cucumbers and other summer vegetables.  Autumn and winter kimchi is made from cabbage and a variety of other vegetables such as radish, parsley, pine nuts, pears, chestnuts, shredded red pepper, garlic, and ginger. These were traditionally allowed to ferment in large ceramic pots that were kept at a constant temperature by being buried underground.  While red chili pepper is the main seasoning in kimchi, it is only a recent addition, having been introduced to Korea only following Japanese invasions from 1592–1598. 

We developed the following vegan kimchi using as a starting point recipes provided by Copeland Marks in his 1999 The Korean Kitchen and Sandor Katz in his 2003 Wild Fermentation.  In traditional kimchi fish sauce is used; here we use white miso which imparts a similar savory/salty flavor and more importantly also adds live microbial cultures into the mixture to assist in fermentation.  This replacement is really nothing more than applying the Japanese concept of pickling vegetables with miso (misozuke) to kimchi production.  We were quite pleased with the result.

1½ pounds bok choy, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ginger paste
8 green onions, cut into 3-inch pieces
¼ pound daikon radish, cut into julienne strips
3 tablespoons white miso
3 tablespoons red chili powder
3 tablespoons hot water

Toss the bok choy with the salt.  Place in a bowl and let stand at room temperature for 3 hours.  Drain, rinse in cold water, drain again, and squeeze out remaining water.

Mix together garlic, ginger, green onion, daikon, miso, chili, and water to make a thick, chunky paste.

Combine chili-garlic paste with wilted bok choy and mix well.  Pack tightly into a quart jar.  Cap the jar, but do not tighten.  Put jar into a bowl, and let ferment at room temperature for 3 (70° F) to 5 days (60° F) days.  After about 3 days the mixture will being bubbling, and will leak water and spice mix out of the top.  Don't worry, this is what is supposed to happen and the reason that you've put the jar into a bowl.  Once you can taste a bit of sour in the pickle, firmly cap the jar, wash the outside, and place in the refrigerator.  Your kimchi should keep for at least 3-4 weeks.


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Red Cooked Cabbage


Red cooking is an important cooking technique in northern, eastern, and southeastern China in which ingredients are stewed in a poaching liquid containing soy sauce, fermented bean paste, red fermented tofu and/or caramelized sugar to give the final dish a reddish-brown hue and savory flavor.  The following, adapted from a recipe presented in Kenneth H.C. Lo’s excellent 1974 “Chinese Vegetarian Cooking” (ISBN 978-0394706399) uses the red cooking technique to prepare an incredibly tasty Chinese cabbage dish.   Consider serving it (and its cooking sauce) as a topping over plain boiled or other rice dishes. 

2 tablespoons canola oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 pounds Chinese cabbage, cut into 1x3” strips
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup stock
salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)

Place oil in large pan over medium-high heat.  Add in the garlic, ginger and onion.  Stir fry for 2 minutes.  Add in the cabbage, and stir fry until wilted, another 5 minutes.  Add in soy sauce, sugar, and stock.  Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered until the cabbage is tender and the sauce has reduced by ½ its volume.   Remove from heat and toss in the rice wine or sherry. 


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Vegetarian Bao


A favorite dim sum dish of ours is bao - a steamed filled yeast bun.  While the foundation for many bao fillings is based on diced, cooked meat (such as roasted pork), there are also vegetarian and vegan options.  And, they can taste as least as good as the meat versions.  Here we present a vegetarian bao which is adapted from Kenneth H.C. Lo’s 1974 Chinese Vegetarian Cooking (ISBN 978-0394706399).  Note that it is worth considering doubling the amount of dough as there will be enough filling and these bao freeze well for future instant meals or snacks.  When we only make a single batch of dough we enjoy eating the extra filling as a topping over rice.  Note that we call for baked tofu which can be found in any Asian market. If you want to make your own, take a look at William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi'sencyclopedic The Book of Tofu. 


1 tablespoon dry yeast dissolved into ¼ cup warm water
4 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn oil

Allow dissolved yeast to activate and become foamy.  Pour into mixing bowl with remaining ingredients.  Mix until all are incorporated and knead for 5 minutes until the dough becomes satiny.  Cover and allow to double in bulk, approximately 2 hours.


5 oz Chinese Cabbage, cut into ½ inch dice
4 oz spinach, cut into ½ inch dice
1½ tablespoons sesame oil
½ teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons canola oil
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
8 dried Shītake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes until soft
1 small leek, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled, and cut into strips using a potato peeler
4 oz Crimini mushrooms, cut into small dice
2 cakes baked tofu, cut into small dice
1 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sugar 
1 teaspoon hot chili oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Toss Chinese cabbage and spinach with sesame oil and salt.  Let rest for 30 minutes.

Cut carrot strips into 1” long segments.  Heat canola oil in wok until just smoking.  Add in Shītake mushrooms, leeks, and carrots.  Stir fry for 2 minutes.  Add in Crimini mushrooms, baked tofu, and remaining ingredients and continue stir frying for another 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour hot stir fried mixture over the top of the marinated greens.  Mix well and let cool to room temperature.

Assembly and Cooking

Place an ample quantity of water into the bottom of a steamer.  Bring to a boil.

Punch down the dough and divide into 3 equal pieces (6 if you have made a double batch of dough).  Roll each into a cylinder, and then cut each into 8 equal-sized segments. 

Roll each segment into a 4” diameter circle.  Place at least 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of each round, gather up the exposed edges, and twist shut.  Place on a 3” square piece of parchment paper, and then both into a steamer rack.  Keep the stuffed buns separated by at least 1”.  Repeat until all 24 dough pieces have been used.       

Allow buns to rise for 30 minutes; be sure to not let them over raise as they will grow together during steaming.  Once the racks are filled, place them over the steamer basin of boiling water.  Steam for 8 minutes and then rotate the racks.  Steam a remaining 8 minutes.  Remove from steamer and let cool before removing from the racks.

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