Pei tsai and other similar varieties of loose-headed cabbages are open-headed with long, narrow, textured leaves whose tips branch outwards. They grow to about 12 inches (30 cm) tall.
The light green leaves of pei tsai have a ruffled appearance. Both the leaves and prominent white stalks are tender with a tangy sweet, but not spicy flavor. These cabbages do not form hearts, but their interiors are creamy yellow.
Pei tsai is very popular in Japan and Taiwan. The best known varieties are Ruffles, Shantung, Minato Santo, and Santo.
Both the leaves and stalks of pei tsai are excellent for stir-fry. These cabbages are perfect for cut and come again harvests.
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 pei tsai 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. Pei tsai is best used fresh but it can be stored for a few days if refrigerated.
Prepare. Wash pei tsai just before using. Remove the desired number of leaves and trim the base of each, wash, drain, and use cooked or raw.
Serve. Pei tsai 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.