If you have spent a lot of time preparing different meals and recipes in the kitchen, you will know many different types of cabbages. Each has unique characteristics like taste, color, texture, and size.
We have red cabbage, green cabbage, savoy cabbage, Bok choy, Brussels sprout, and Napa cabbage. Out of all these, we are most interested in the napa cabbage.
This article will explore what napa cabbage is, its origin, planting methods, ways of preservation, and some recipes you could try out.
What Is Napa Cabbage?
Napa cabbage is, also known as Chinese cabbage or celery cabbage originates from China. The Chinese have cultivated this cabbage since the 15th century, and it is popular because of its versatile nature.
It has a light green color and long leaves. It grows in an elongated and compact head.
Napa cabbage has a milder flavor and is slightly sweeter than the ordinary green cabbage. Their leaves are smooth and tender, and their veins are edible because they are pleasant.
This cabbage is versatile because it can be used for soups, wraps, stir-fry, salads, and other delicious recipes. Depending on the recipe, it can be eaten raw or cooked, and it is the best substitute for regular cabbage.
This cabbage was introduced in Northern America in the 19th century and is cultivated in many parts of the world.
This cabbage is also very popular in Korea because it is used in making Kim Chi, their national dish.
Types Of Napa Cabbage
Napa cabbage has two standard varieties, the Chili and Che foo. The Che foo variety produces round heads of cabbage, and it is smaller in size.
The Chili variety, on the other hand, is cylindrical and is popular in America.
How To Grow Napa Cabbage
One of the most significant difficulties of planting napa cabbage is the problem of pests and diseases.
Even after many years of being grown, no effective insecticide has been developed. Also, this plant is sensitive to the soil, light conditions, and water.
So, if you have to grow this cabbage, you have to plan. From experience, the best way of growing these plants is by seedlings and not transplanting.
You can plant them directly in the soil or plant them in peats or cups to keep their roots intact. Or you can plant them in boxes.
Also, most people will advise you to practice stagger planting when growing napa cabbages.
This means that you need to plant the cabbages where some batches mature while others are still growing. This will help you yield more profits when you harvest.
This plant does better in cool, wet, and not too rainy weather. Most people in the US plant their napa cabbage in early spring with the hope of harvesting them in mid-summer.
These cabbages drain all the nutrients in the soil. Make sure to fertilize the soil after every harvest before planting again.
This cabbage grows well in a partial shade, and they do better under the sun. However, they need six hours of sunlight daily, so it would be good for them to get some direct sunlight if you are growing them in the shade.
One other thing you should consider is that if you are growing these cabbages in containers, you should leave enough space for the roots.
Their roots run deep, and if the roots do not get enough space, the plant might die before maturity.
How Long Does Napa Cabbage Last?
Naturally, napa cabbage lasts for a week, but your storage method will determine if your cabbage will last longer.
For example, if you freeze your cabbage, it will last for months, but it can last for a week if you store them in the refrigerator.
If you are putting them in the refrigerator, remember to place them in a plastic bag before putting them in the refrigerator.
If you want your cabbage to last longer, you need to keep them away from heat or direct sunlight.
Keep the cabbages in a cool environment, and if you are not going to refrigerate or freeze the cabbage, you should consume it within three days.
How To Tell If Your Napa Cabbage Has Gone Bad
Eating bad food can cause uneasiness and health complications that you need to avoid. So there are three ways to tell if your cabbage is terrible. The first way to tell if your cabbage is terrible is by using your sense of smell.
Spoilt cabbage emits an unbearable foul smell; it is advisable to throw it away rather than take any risk. Secondly, if you notice any change of color in the leaves, it is advisable to throw the cabbage away.
Lastly, if you notice any change in the appearance of the cabbage, such as molds or soft spots, it is mainly an indication that the cabbage is terrible and not suitable for consumption.
Furthermore, if you notice that the leaves on the outer parts of the cabbage are damaged, it is advisable to pluck them off.
If you do not pluck the rotten leaves, there are high chances that the entire cabbage will get spoilt quicker than usual.
How To Clean Napa Cabbage
When cleaning your napa cabbage leaves, you might want to preserve their whole leaves, mainly if you use them for wraps or stir-fry recipes.
So the best way to wash them is to separate the leaves and wash them under running water one after the other.
Another easy way could be to pluck the leaves from the stem and soak them in warm water for ten minutes to get rid of the dirt.
Please do not use any soap or detergent to get rid of the dirt; instead, it is advisable to use warm water or vinegar.
How to Choose The Best Napa Cabbage
When buying napa cabbage from the stores, it is important not to buy a cabbage that is already spoilt; here are some tricks to help you pick the suitable cabbage always.
Always go for the cabbage with bright green and fluffy leaves; if the leaves are brownish or shrunk, you should avoid it. Secondly, the head of the cabbage should be dense and heavy; you should avoid anything less.
Also, look out for any holes or damages to the napa cabbage leaves; they may be signs of worm damage. Look at the tips of the leaves, and if there is any brown coloration, you should avoid buying that cabbage.
How to Cook Napa Cabbage
There are different ways of preparing this delicious cabbage; whatever method you choose will depend on what recipe you are using. For example, you can use this recipe in a stir-fry recipe that requires other veggies such as meat and soy sauce.
You can steam the cabbage on a stovetop with other veggies and meat to make a warm hearty soup. You can also grill the cabbage, especially when you have a barbecue during summertime, giving it a smoky flavor. Let’s explore these methods further.
1. Roasted Napa Cabbage
Most recipes require you to roast the napa cabbage in the oven, and it is a simple method that does not require much. Also, this method is the best if you do not want to overcook your cabbage.
- You begin by preheating the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit; after this, place a pan in the oven so that it heats up as well.
- Whisk together your sour and sweet sauce or any other sauce of your choice.
- Rinse your cabbage and cut them into any size of your choice.
- Bake your napa cabbage for about six minutes, turn it on the other side and let it sit for another six minutes.
- Take the cabbage out of the oven and brush it with your sauce. Broil it for another three minutes, and it will be ready for consumption.
2. Stir-Fry Napa Cabbage
This is one of the most popular methods used by many recipes. It is easy to prepare, and stir-fry recipes are delicious. In addition, they maintain the crunchy attributes of the cabbage, making it delightful to eat. This flavored and crunchy cabbage is usually served with rice, noodles, and tofu.
- Rinse and slice your cabbage to any size of your choice.
- Slice the ginger, onion, and minced garlic.
- Sautee the garlic, onion, and ginger.
- Add your sliced cabbage to the sauteed ginger and cook for about two minutes.
- Add your seasoning to the mixture and cook for three minutes.
- Stir in your toasted sesame oil and serve.
3. Grilled Napa Cabbage
Grilling is an exciting way of serving your napa cabbage. The grilling gives the cabbage a lovely charred texture and a smoked flavor. You can use this recipe, especially when having parties and family barbecues during the summertime.
- You begin by heating your grill.
- Cut and rinse your napa cabbage.
- Brush your cabbage with vegetable oil.
- Cover the grill and grill for three minutes
- Flip your cabbage and grill the other side for another three minutes.
- Glaze your cabbage with any sauce of your choice and serve.
4. Boiled Napa Cabbage
Another straightforward way of preparing your napa cabbage is by boiling them. This method is common when you want to make some vegetable soup medley.
- Begin by washing and cutting your cabbage into smaller sizes
- Place a pot of water and salt on the stovetop and let it boil.
- Add the cabbage when the water starts boiling and let it cook for three to five minutes.
As you can see from the methods listed above, you can tell that napa cabbage is a simple vegetable to prepare. And there are few chances that you’ll fail even if you are cooking for the first time.
Napa Cabbage Recipes
Now that we have shed some light on napa cabbage let us explore some delicious, tasty, and healthy recipes you could prepare.
1. Chinese Chicken Cabbage Stir-Fry
This delicious recipe is healthy and keto, and gluten-free friendly. This recipe is filled with flavorful, juicy chunks of chicken and healthy veggies, and it is simple to put together.
This recipe uses thin chicken breast because it works better than large chicken breast chunks.
You begin this recipe by chopping all the ingredients; the second step requires you to sautee the chicken before adding onions, broccoli, and bell pepper.
The cabbage is the last veggie that you add to the mix. After this, reduce the heat and mix the sauce with the five-spice powder.
You can adjust the oil to the required amount depending on the dryness of the veggies. You will love this simple but tasty recipe.
2. Chinese Cabbage Salad
When you need something healthy, light, cool, and flavorful, this salad is what you run to. This salad is crunchy and looks irresistible, and it will be perfect for one of your barbecue events.
This salad requires simple and common ingredients that you will find easily in the stores. You will need ingredients like napa cabbage, onions, carrots, ramen noodles, butter, sliced almonds, and sesame seeds.
The salad dressing is flavorful and exciting, and it is made with peanut oil, sugar, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. You can serve this salad as a side with meat or eat it alone because it is satisfying.
3. Chinese Cabbage Noodles Stir fry
Cabbages are veggies that you can run to when you want a quick and easy meal, same with noodles.
This cabbage noodle stir fry recipe is delicious, filled with bold flavors like garlic and ginger, and super easy to make.
The mild flavors from the napa cabbage pair perfectly with the spices and seasonings used here.
You need napa cabbage, rice vinegar, chili paste, sugar, sesame oil, corn starch, green onion, ginger, garlic, noodles, and shredded cabbage for this recipe.
4. Cabbage Egg Drop Soup
If you are looking for healthy comfort food, this cabbage egg drop soup will offer the comfort you crave on cold nights. This soup is full of comforting flavors and healthy ingredients.
The napa cabbage is cooked until it is soft and tender and blends with the other ingredients used here. The eggs had a lovely beautiful ribbon to the soup, and it is flavored with ginger, garlic, and sesame seeds.
This soup is comforting and pretty easy to cook in just twenty minutes. If you are expecting Chinese friends or family members, preparing this soup will put a smile on their faces.
It is vegetarian and gluten-free, and you can serve it as a side with fried rice or any other stir fry recipe that you love.
5. Egg Roll Stir Fry
It is amazing how this recipe also consists of eggs and napa cabbage, but it is different from the recipe above.
This recipe has all the tasty ingredients you will find in an egg roll but without the dough wrapper.
This recipe is delicious and yummy and allows you to enjoy your egg roll more healthily.
The ingredients used here are ground beef, napa cabbage, onion, carrots, fresh ginger, black pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, and garlic.
6. Chinese Pickled Cabbage
If you love pickled cucumbers or foods, then you might love this pickled cabbage recipe. This exciting recipe combines many flavors into one jar; salty, spicy, vinegary, sweet, and fragrant.
It is perfect during the summer when you want a cold side dish to go with the weather. Also, this pickled cabbage is colorful because of the other ingredients added to it.
This recipe contains napa cabbage, fresh ginger, sugar, salt, rice wine vinegar, carrots, red bell pepper, Sichuan peppercorns, dried red chili.
7. Cabbage And Cucumber Salad
If you are looking for a refreshing and delicious coleslaw, this recipe might be the next best thing for you. This salad is very healthy; it is vegan, low-carb, and a light meal.
You can eat this salad raw, and it is perfect during summer because you do not need to crank up your oven.
This salad is exciting because of the spiralized way the cucumber is sliced, and it blends well with the sliced cabbage.
This salad is perfect for a potluck or outdoor party, be rest assured that everyone will want to have a share of this salad.
8. Spicy Shrimp Napa Cabbage Stir Fry
This lovely seafood-flavored dish is delicious, tasty, and irresistible. Instead of ordering takeout from your favorite restaurant, which might be expensive, you can easily make this in the comfort of your kitchen.
The shrimps are tasty and juicy, making this meal enjoyable, and the napa cabbage adds a healthy aspect to the dish. You can serve this shrimp recipe with rice.
Thanks to the marinade made with honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, and deveined shrimps, the shrimps are tasty.
The stir fry process needs peanut oil, minced garlic, green onions, fresh ginger, garlic sauce, napa cabbage, soy sauce, and roasted sesame seeds for garnishing.
9. Chinese Cabbage Lo Mein
This is a lovely Chinese takeout recipe that is delicious and easy to prepare in under thirty minutes. This delicious recipe is perfect for a midweek quick dinner and lunch.
The egg noodles used in this recipe are round with a chewy texture, and they sit well with the rich vegetable contents. This recipe requires you to boil the noodles before adding them to the other ingredients.
Another essential ingredient in this recipe is the sauce mix because it decides the final flavor of the dish.
The vegetables used here include celery, red sweet onion, red and green bell peppers, scallions, and carrots.
10. Beef Cabbage Stir Fry
This recipe is perfect for those trying to balance their meat and vegetable intake. The beef is flavorful and juicy and full of healthy ingredients.
The fantastic thing is that this delicious meal is not complicated; you can enjoy this fresh and homemade meal in no time. You begin by frying your meat until it is crispy and browned.
When browned, add garlic, onion, ginger, and your stir fry sauce to add flavor to the beef.
After this, you add your carrots, cabbage, and other ingredients to have your complete dish. Our first bite from this meal will make you crave more.
11. ticky Rice Cabbage Rolls
These sweet and spicy sauce-filled napa cabbage sticky rice rolls are delicious and hearty. This recipe is a lovely way to use the vegetable stems you have been saving.
These grilled napa cabbage wraps have a smoky and sweet flavor that makes them perfect in a stew.
This recipe is a special dish that is not commonly prepared. But this blog offers you a detailed guide that will assist you.
These cabbage rolls are easy to make ahead of time; you can prepare them over the weekend and enjoy them during the week.
In addition, you can be creative with the fillings for this recipe, depending on your preference.
12. Spicy Glazed Chickpea Napa Cabbage Salad
This recipe is filled with bold flavors, refreshing, spicy, and healthy. This salad is colorful, brimming with unique Asian flavors.
Imagine the crisp texture of the vegetables and the tangy and sweet flavors from the glazed chickpeas; is it not irresistible?
This recipe is highly healthy, gluten-free, plant-based, and perfect for vegans. This salad is light and refreshing and can be prepared in thirty minutes.
The ingredients for the salad are red bell pepper, carrots, green onions, toasted sesame seeds, and napa cabbage.
In addition, you need rice vinegar, ketchup, tahini, minced ginger, white miso, garlic, and onion powder for the dressing.
It would be best to glaze the chickpeas to give them a lovely flavor. You need tamari, maple syrup, garlic, ginger, vegetable broth, red pepper flake, and cornstarch for the ingredients.
13. Roasted Kale and Napa Cabbage
Imagine a combination of two healthy vegetables in one recipe; that’s undoubtedly a powerful combination. This recipe combines the smokey flavor and crunchy texture of kale with the mild flavor of napa cabbage. It is light and hearty and will serve as a perfect side dish.
To get the best outcome, you need to use the freshest napa cabbage and kale vegetables that you can find in the market. If you do not like the hard vein of the kale, you can cut it off and enjoy the crispy leaf.
These healthy vegetables are seasoned with garlic, sea salt, and olive oil. You can serve this recipe with fish, chicken, or roasted salmon.
If you are looking for an extra healthy vegetable to add to your menu, napa cabbage is a perfect option. The recipes above are tasty and easy to incorporate into your meal.