Napa cabbage forms a stout head to about 10 inches (25 cm) high. The outer leaves curve inward and are dark green to pale green. The interior leaves and heart is yellow to creamy colored.
Napa cabbage has a light, sweet taste and is tender. It is the best storing of Chinese cabbages and can be kept several weeks refrigerated.
Napa cabbage cultivars include Wong Bok, Nagaoka, Kasumi, Minuet, Rubicon, Tropic Pioneeer, Yellow King, Spring Delight, Tropic Queen, Hwa King, and Tropic Star.
The water content of these Asian cabbages is higher than that of the European varieties of cabbage. They are crisper and more refreshing and also less fibrous. The flavor of Asian cabbages is more subtle and pleasant than European head cabbage.
Choose. Select Napa cabbage that is compact, firm, crisp and fresh. There should be no brown spots on the ribs. Avoid greens whose leaves are slightly wilted or exhibit brown spots.
Store. Napa cabbage can be stored for weeks and even months if refrigerated in an upright position.
Prepare. Wash Napa cabbage just before using. Remove the desired number of leaves and trim the base of each, wash, drain, and use cooked or raw.
Serve. Napa cabbage can be steamed, boiled, quickly stir fried, or eaten raw. Cooked leaves and stalks add flavor to soups, stews, pasta dishes, and stir-fries.
This vegetable belongs to the pekinensis subspecies of the Brassica genus.