Braised Cabbage

Well, the pickings are pretty slim for Chinese vegetables in Michigan in the winter – so bad that every time we cook Chinese food, my daughter groans, “bok choy agaaaaaaaain?!?” I do miss the Asian vendors at the Torrance Farmers’ Market, but we’re making do with napa and bok choy, which seem to be the only Asian produce most non-Asian stores here stock.

This recipe can be made with either napa or bok choy, although I prefer the crinkly napa for this one – it makes for an almost soup-like, warming winter dish. Want it heartier? Use a homemade chicken stock or broth. Want it vegan? Use water or vegetable stock – you may want to adjust the seasoning a bit in that case. Romaine or even iceberg lettuce is also a good vegetable to use for this dish!


  • 1 lb napa cabbage
  • 1 T oil
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fermented black beans, optional
  • 2 c broth, water, or stock


  1. Break the cabbage leaves apart and soak in cool water – rinse and repeat if it’s particularly sandy.
  2. Heat the oil in the wok until it shimmers, then explode the scallions just until fragrant – don’t brown them!
  3. Add the cabbage leaves just until coated with oil and barely wilted.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, cover lightly and simmer just until the cabbbage is tender. If you cover too tightly or cook it too long, the color will be very drab. Adjust the seasoning and serve.

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