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How to Cook Napa Cabbage

How to Cook Napa Cabbage

Last Updated on 21st July 2023 by

Napa cabbage is a sweet vegetable that can be cooked up in a number of ways. You can cook this cabbage (also called Chinese cabbage) just about any way you like.

A lot of people will use it in stir fry, mixing it with some meat and veggies with a dash of soy sauce. Others will cook it up in a pot of water on the stove, adding in some other veggies and seasoning and making a soup from it.

You can cook the cabbage on the grill as well, as part of a shish kebab. These are just a few ideas to get you started, and I will share with you a few different methods you can use for how to cook napa cabbage.

Napa Cabbage Stir Fry

Let’s start off with one of the simplest and most popular ways to have napa cabbage, and that is in a stir fry in a Chinese style dish. How to cook napa cabbage Chinese style? Let me share with you this quick and easy method.

To make a stir fry from napa cabbage, you want to wash it first. Make sure it is clean by rising it in running water and rubbing off any dirt and debris that could be stuck to it. Then, heat up some oil in a skillet- about two tablespoons. Cook on medium heat.

Once the oil is warm, you can toss your cabbage in there. Let it cook for about a minute with the skillet covered before adding in other veggies, like mushrooms, carrots, onions and whatever else you are adding in. You can add soy sauce as well to cook the cabbage in. When you add in the soy sauce and additional veggies, turn down the heat to low.

Cook for an additional two or three minutes until the cabbage is soft. Once it has become soft, you can take the skillet off the heat and serve. You now know how to cook napa cabbage in stir fry, and you can add meat to this dish as well.

It goes very well with chicken, pork, shrimp, or beef. Some of those meats may need to cook longer than the rest of the food, and you might want to cook up the beef and chicken separately before adding them to the stir fry. Shrimp and pork don’t take long to cook and can be cooked with the rest of the food in the skillet at the same time.

Boiled Cabbage

Another way to cook up napa cabbage is to boil it in water. You can make this as a soup or just as a boiled vegetable medley. Boiled cabbage makes for a good dish on its own too if you season it well.

How to cook with napa cabbage when you are boiling it? Be sure to cut the cabbage, first, usually in half and then in smaller strips. It cooks much faster when it is cut into small pieces, and it will be ready to eat and bite size when it is done cooking, if you cut it before trying to cook it.

Prepare a pot of water and add salt. You want enough water to cover the cabbage and whatever else you are cooking in the water. Once the water starts to boil, you can add your cabbage to it. If you are cooking shredded cabbage leaves in the water, it will take about 3-5 minutes of boiling on high heat for them to cook.

They will become soft and tender when they are done cooking. If you are cooking halves or quarters of cabbage, then you should give them about 10 minutes to cook. Now you know how long to cook napa cabbage when boiling it on the stove.

Grilled Cabbage

Another of the how to cook napa cabbage recipes I want to share with you is one for cooking cabbage on the grill. You can give your cabbage a beautiful grilled look and texture when cooking this way, and it is just as simple as the other methods I have shared with you so far. Grilling cabbage is a great way how to cook Chinese napa cabbage with other veggies or meats at the same time.

Start by heating the grill to high. For charcoal grills, fill the grill about halfway full with charcoal briquets and place them in the center of the charcoal area.

While the grill is heating up, you can be prepping your napa cabbage. Just rinse it and clean it and then chop it up how you want it. You can cook it in strips on a pan placed onto the grill or cut the cabbage into large wedges that can lay directly on the grill. Either way, your cook time will be about the same.

Drizzle some oil over the cabbage and cook on one side for about three minutes, closing the grill to allow the cabbage to cook faster. Then, turn the cabbage over and let it cook on the other side for an additional three minutes, closing the grill cover once more. The cabbage should be browning once it is cooking well.

Cabbage should be tender if it is done cooking. You can test the doneness and tenderness with a fork, prodding the cabbage gently. If the fork slides in easily, then the cabbage is tender. You can cook it to as tender as you prefer it to be.

Unlike meat, you don’t test cabbage with a thermometer to see if they reach a proper internal temperature. You can eat veggies at any stage of the cooking process. It’s up to you to determine if they are soft enough for your liking, though, and you decide when they have cooked enough.

Roasted Cabbage

I want to share with you one more method for cooking napa cabbage that you can use. Roasting them means you are using the oven, and this is a great method for cooking them simply and ensuring they turn out great with little risk that you will overcook them or otherwise mess up the cooking process.

To roast napa cabbage, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Put a roasting pan into the oven while the oven is preheating. This will ensure that the pan gets hot enough to cook the cabbage quickly and thoroughly.

While the oven is heating up, you can prepare your cabbage by cleaning it and chopping it up. Once again, you can cut the cabbage into wedges or halves, or you can shred it up. You can also prepare any sauce or seasoning you want to put on your cabbage.

Face the cut sides of the cabbage down into the pan and roast for six minutes. If you are cooking large pieces, you can turn them over at that point and cook them for an additional six minutes.

You can take the cabbage out of the oven and season it and serve it then or cook it further in the broiler for a very soft cabbage.

These few methods for cooking a napa cabbage should give you some ideas to work with and help you to cook it well no matter what cooking method you prefer. As you can see, this is a fairly simple vegetable to cook and there is little risk that you will mess it up and ruin your dish.

I hope you try a few of these out so that you can experiment and determine which method is your favourite. Be sure to try the cabbage with a few different kinds of seasonings and meats or veggies for added variety so that you can get the most out of any napa cabbage you buy.


What’s the best way to prepare Napa cabbage before cooking it?

Before cooking Napa cabbage, it’s recommended to rinse the leaves under cold water to remove any dirt or grit. Cut off the base and separate the leaves. You can then chop or shred the leaves according to the recipe. It’s also a good idea to dry the leaves before cooking to prevent waterlogging, especially if you plan on sautéing or stir-frying.

Can Napa cabbage be eaten raw or does it always need to be cooked?

Napa cabbage can be both eaten raw or cooked. When raw, it can be used in salads or as a wrapper for other ingredients. When cooked, Napa cabbage becomes sweeter and softer, making it a great ingredient for stir-fries, soups, or stews.

What are some easy and delicious recipes that feature cooked Napa cabbage?

Napa cabbage is quite versatile and can be used in many dishes. For instance, you can stir-fry it with garlic and a bit of soy sauce for a quick side dish. It can also be added to soups or stews, like in a traditional Korean Kimchi stew. Additionally, Napa cabbage is commonly used in making dumplings or rolls due to its pliability and mild flavor. Lastly, it can be pickled or fermented to make dishes like Kimchi.

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Pauline Loughlin
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I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!