What Is Chinese Cabbage And How To Cook It

What is Chinese cabbage and how to cook it
What is Chinese cabbage and how to cook it. Getty Images

There are many different types of Chinese cabbages (scientific name: Brassica Pekinensis) but we most common name associated with Chinese cabbage is Napa Cabbage, which is also known as Chinese leaves (Chinese name:白菜/大白菜).  


Napa cabbage is a large-headed cabbage with firmly packed, pale green leaves that you will usually find next to bok choy in Western supermarkets. More healthy than Western cabbages, Napa cabbage is rich in Vitamin C and other nutrients.

It is also a Yin food in Chinese cooking.


Napa cabbage has numerous health benefits of which many are listed below:


  1. Napa cabbage is very low in calories.
  2. Napa cabbage contains many antioxidant plant compounds and is high in dietary fiber.
  3. Some scientific studies suggest consuming napa cabbage in our diet can help to protect our body from cancers and help to lower LDL levels.
  4. Napa cabbage is an incredible resource of folic acid and Vitamin B.
  5. Napa cabbage is high in Vitamin C.
  6. It’s also an amazing source for Vitamin K.


There are many more amazing health benefits of Napa cabbage but if you have any health issues please consult with your doctor.


Like tofu, Napa cabbage absorbs the flavours of the foods around it. That’s why a lot of Chinese people like to add Napa cabbage in their soups or cook in a hot pot. The tender sweetness of Napa cabbage can also bring a sweetness to your soup. You can also eat it raw in salads and it’s often added to stir-fries and steamed food.


How to shop for Napa Cabbage:


When selecting Napa cabbage, look for firm green leaves that are not wilted or eaten by bugs. Store the cabbage in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.


Cooking tip - Lining a bamboo steamer with Napa Cabbage helps prevent food from sticking to the bottom.


Below are some of the most popular Napa cabbage recipes:


Chinese Creamed Cabbage

Dairy products were rarely used in China, partly because of the high incidence of lactose intolerance among the East Asian population – this Northern court dish is a rare exception. Traditionally it would be made with whole milk, but you’ll also find recipes using cream to give a creamier sauce.


Sweet and Sour Cabbage

Napa cabbage has a sweet flavour and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Traditionally, this spicy cabbage dish is served cold, with the sauce mixture heated and poured over the vegetables and ginger just before serving. Here it is turned into an easy stir-fry. The hot chili oil is optional.


Spicy Stir-fry Chinese Cabbage

Chili paste adds heat to this stir-fry with Chinese cabbage and green onions.


Lion Head Chinese Meatballs

This delicious lion head meatball dish is often cooked with Chinese leaves/napa cabbage. The napa cabbage will absorb all the stock and tastes amazing.


Quick Chinese Cabbage Recipe:


280g (10 ounces) Chinese cabbage

2 five-spice flavour bean curd

1 spring onion, julienned

1 chili, removed seed and julienned

30g (1 ounce) toasted peanuts



1 teaspoon sesame oil

½ teaspoon salt

½ tablespoon light soy sauce

¼ teaspoon ground white pepper



  1. Trim off the base part of the Chinese cabbage and the leaves should separate from it after the base part is trimmed off. Rinse the leaves under cold water and drain and dry thoroughly. I will wash Chinese cabbage ahead to give it more time to dry.
  2. Julienne the Chinese cabbage, spring onion, chili and bean curd and put it in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix it with all the seasonings and add peanuts. It’s ready to serve.


  • The idea is to julienne all the ingredients very thin so all the ingredients can absorb and mix well with the seasoning quickly. Make sure you eat this salad soon after serving otherwise the seasonings will make the Chinese cabbage soggy.


Edited by Liv Wan