Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, is the most common ingredient in kimchi, appears in soup and stir-fry recipes in many cuisines around the world and also makes a good salad. It is milder and sweeter than head cabbage and a great back-up vegetable to keep on hand. Like other cruciferous vegetables, it lasts a pretty long time in the fridge – up to two weeks. If, after a long refrigerator nap, the outer leaves look spotty or wilted, just peel them off and use the rest. I find it in Northeast farmers markets from spring to fall and it is widely available in mainstream chain groceries and Asian markets year round. Napa shrinks down dramatically as it cooks because of its high water content so don’t be afraid to start out with a lot of raw cabbage.
My favorite way to prepare Napa is in a macrobiotic/Japanese style sauté with onions, carrots and sesame that I learned how to make when I took a macro cooking class my first year out of college. I make it the same way all these years later because it is simple to prepare, good leftover and everyone seems to like it. Why mess with a good thing?
SAUTÉED NAPA CABBAGE WITH ONIONS AND CARROTS
- 2 TBs neutral cooking oil, like avocado or grape seed
- 1 large onion, peeled, halved and sliced
- 3-4 large carrots, cut in thick matchsticks
- 1 small or 1/2 large Napa cabbage, cut in squares (make 2-3 lengthwise slices and then slice crosswise)
- 2 TBs tamari or soy sauce
- 1-2 tsps dark sesame oil
- 1-2 TBs toasted sesame seeds or gomasio (sesame salt)(optional)
- Heat the oil in a large high sided skillet or wide stockpot.
Add onions and cook until wilted but don’t brown.
Add carrots and cook 3-4 minutes more.
Add Napa and tamari, stir, cover and cook about 4-5 minutes until wilted but still some bright green evident.
Turn off heat, add sesame oil and toss. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Put in serving dish and top with sesame seeds.
Serves 4-6 and stores 2-3 days refrigerated.