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Napa Cabbage and Wong Bok: Kitchen Basics

Napa cabbage and carrots
Napa cabbage and carrots
Napa cabbage and carrots

Napa cabbage or wong bok is a sweet-tasting hearted-type of Chinese cabbage. It is barrel-shaped, with tightly-wrapped leaves and a dense heart.

Napa cabbage can be steamed, boiled, quickly stir-fried, or eaten raw.

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.

How to Choose Napa Cabbage

  • 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.

How to Store Napa Cabbage

  • Napa cabbage can be stored for weeks and even months if refrigerated in an upright position.

How to Prepare Napa Cabbage

  • Wash Napa cabbage just before using it.
  • Remove the desired number of leaves and trim the base of each, wash, drain, and use cooked or raw.
Soup: boiled minced pork, stuffed squid with Napa Chinese cabbage

Napa Cabbage Serving Suggestions

  • 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.
  • For stir-fry, salads, or soups, separate the leaves in julienne strips, wide ribbons, or squares.
  • Add ribbons to the broth during the last few minutes of cooking or simmer for a longer period of time in thick, stewy soups. Dice the crisper narrow stalks for a celery-like addition.

How to Steam Napa Cabbage

  1. Add a few inches of water to a pot then insert a steamer basket. The water should not touch the bottom of the steamer basket.
  2. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  3. Add whole or shredded leaves and cover.
  4. Steam until tender, about 4 or 5 minutes.

How to Boil Napa Cabbage

  1. Shred or cut the head in halves or quarters.
  2. Bring a lightly salted pot of water to a boil.
  3. Put cabbage in the pot and boil for about 3 to 5 minutes for shredded leaves, about 10 minutes for halves and quarters.
  4. Remove the cabbage with a slotted spoon and dry on a kitchen towel or a paper-towel-lined plate.

How to Stir-Fry Napa Cabbage

  1. Tear or shred leaves.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok.
  3. Add the leaves and 2 sliced garlic cloves.
  4. Stir-fry until the leaves start to wilt then add a quarter cup or slightly more vegetable stock.
  5. Cover and cook for 3 minutes or until just tender.

How to Sauté Napa Cabbage

  • Place a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and place over medium-high heat.
  • Add thinly sliced, shredded, or small whole leaves and season with soy sauce or salt and pepper.
  • Cook, stirring often, until the leaves are tender, about 10 minutes.
Cabbage Napa
Napa cabbage

More About Napa Cabbage

  • 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 cultivars include ‘Wong Bok’, ‘Nagaoka’, ‘Kasumi’, ‘Minuet, Rubicon’, ‘Tropic Pioneer’, ‘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.

Napa cabbage belongs to the pekinensis subspecies of the Brassica genus.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Spinach

How to Grow Lettuce

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2 Comments

  1. it took me a while to find and stumble on to this post and I have to say best info that I have come into. I work as a server at a new shabu shabu resteraunt and I helped with the vegi prep and almost was in tears on how much I had to throw away and it was delivered a few days prior. The owner which was right there doing the same thing just going through the napa it had weird black dots along the bridge. So we were questioning how do you store it? I have to say they where in a fancy wax box laying down neatly. I would have never guessed it was because they where lying down. thank you very much I get to be a hero and a butt kisser tomorrow when I present my researched solution. If you have any sugjestions on how we can cut the napa and regrown it with the bottom of the plant like green unions, Lettuce.

    • Napa cabbage can be grown cut-and-come-again for a second harvest by cutting the head about one inch (2.5 cm) above the soil level. The plant will generate a new, second head–but it will be smaller than the first. Store cabbage at well above 32F and store it standing up if you can.

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