Stirfried Chinese Cabbage

Stirfried Napa Cabbage (or Bok Choy)

This was the very first Chinese dish I learned how to make and it remains one of our favorites – the flavor is clean and light, and cabbages are available almost year round at the from a wonderful vendor of Asian vegetables at our local farmers’ market in Southern California. Unless you have an enormous wok, don’t try to cook the cabbage all at once – it will get soggy and steam rather than stirfry. If you are making a multi-dish meal, this should be one of the last dishes you make, as it should be served immediately.

ingredients

  • 6 shiitake mushrooms, fresh or dried
  • 1.5 lb napa cabbage
  • 2 T oil
  • 1/2 -1 tsp salt
  • up to 1/4 c water (or broth or mushroom soaking liquid)

method

  1. If using fresh shiitakes, remove the stems (save for a stock!) and cut caps into 1/4″ strips. If using dried mushrooms, soak them in boiling water until softened, reserving the water for use later.
  2. Separate the cabbage leaves and wash thoroughly – a good soak won’t hurt them and will get rid of any grit by the stems.
  3. If using napa, cut the leaves in half lengthwise, then into 1″ ribbons across the leafy parts and 1/2″ strips across the crunchier stem ends.
  4. Heat 1 T of oil in the wok over high heat until it shimmers, then add the mushrooms, stirfrying quickly.
  5. Add 1/2 of the cabbage, and stirfry until it is coated with oil.
  6. Add 1/4 tsp of the salt and continue to stirfry as the cabbage releases its juices. If necessary, add a bit of liquid to keep the mixture moist until it reaches the desired doneness – some people prefer it crunchy, others like it cooked through.
  7. Repeat with the second 1 T oil, 1/2 of the cabbage, and 1/4 tsp of salt.
  8. Return the first batch of cabbage with the mushrooms, mix together, adjust seasoning, and serve.

variations

  • In place of or in addition to the mushrooms, you can add 1 T tiny dried shrimp (soak as the dried mushrooms, reserving the liquid for use in the recipe) or 1/4 c cooked tiny shrimp for a more complex flavor.
  • If you like bok choy, this is a great recipe for that cabbage as well: when cutting, separate the leaves from the stems; cut stems into 1/4″ diagonal strips and leaves into 1/2″ ribbons crosswise. When cooking, stirfry the stem pieces as the first batch of cabbage and the leaves as the second, recombining at the end. This allows you to cook the stems longer without overcooking the more tender leaves.
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