What Is Chinese Cabbage? Plus, How to Cook It

Do you cook with Chinese cabbage? You'll want to start after you learn more about this vegetable.

Of all the vegetables in the Brassica family, cabbage gets the least amount of love. Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are getting their much-deserved time in the spotlight, and once you figure out how to cook broccoli, it turns out perfectly every time. Cabbage, on the other hand, gets overlooked and relegated to its role as the crunchy component of coleslaw. Even when it is used, most of us simply reach for the familiar green orb in the produce aisle.

It’s time to move on from regular green cabbage and branch out to one of my favorite ingredients to add to Asian stir fries, salads and power bowls: Chinese cabbage.

What’s the difference between Chinese cabbage and regular cabbage?

Cabbages come in all different shapes and sizes, and Chinese cabbage is one of the four main varieties of cabbage (along with green, red and savoy). Regular cabbage grows into a round sphere, its leaves curling inward until they form a tight ball. Chinese cabbage, on the other hand, grows into an oblong shape, its leaves frilling out towards the edges. It’s light green with yellow tints, and has a sweeter flavor than its round cousins.

When it comes to nutrition, Chinese cabbage packs significantly more vitamins and minerals than regular cabbage. In addition to its high vitamin C and K levels, it’s also full of folic acid and antioxidants. You can use it as a natural way to reduce inflammation.

Is Chinese cabbage the same as Napa cabbage?

There are a few different kinds of Chinese cabbage, but Napa cabbage is the most popular in the group. Most grocery stores label Napa varieties as “Chinese cabbage,” but beware: they may also put bok choy, pak choy or other Asian greens under the same label.

If you accidentally end up with a bunch of bok choy, don’t worry. We can show you three tasty ways to cook this Asian green.

What is Chinese cabbage good for?

In addition to its health benefits, Chinese cabbage can be used in a variety of different dishes. You can eat it raw, shredding it and adding it to tacos, salads or power bowls. Feel free to swap it in for any recipe that calls for green cabbage; its sweet flavor makes it particularly delicious in coleslaw recipes. You can also add it to salads or sandwiches to add crunch and depth of flavor.

No matter how you prepare it, you’ll love the soft texture and sweet flavor of Chinese cabbage!

Find more cabbage recipes to help you cook this underrated vegetable
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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.