A simple and quick dish that makes cabbage richly flavored and addictive!
I’m posting this Chinese Vinaigrette Cabbage Stir Fry recipe for my friend Mason, who recently requested this dish, which he misses a lot from his days in China. It’s one of those home-cooked recipes that look so plain yet are super hearty and delicious. The best part, like other week-day recipes, it is easy to prepare and takes no time to cook.
The recipe today is a quick and delicious way to enjoy cabbage. It uses a black vinegar based sauce that is slightly sweet and spicy. The cabbage is cooked in a hot pan until the surface is charred and the texture remains crisp, like it just came off the grill. So appetizing and delicious!
Chinese black vinegar, or Chinkiang or Zhenjiang vinegar, is an aged vinegar that has a rich, pungent, and tart flavor. It is vaguely similar to balsamic vinegar. It has a fermented malty taste and a woody character that distinguish it from the light colored and fruity rice vinegar. If you want to cook this dish the authentic way, you have to use black vinegar. You can get this vinegar at an Asian market or on Amazon.
The original recipe is intended for cooking the standard green cabbage, which has a tenderer texture, but I tried it with other types of cabbage and they worked out great, too. If you can find green cabbage, it will be the best. All you need to do is to cook it in a very hot skillet (or wok) and do not overcook it. You want the cabbage to be just cooked and remain crisp, instead of soft and soggy.
On the other hand, if you’re using another type of cabbage, like the savoy cabbage I used in this recipe, you will need to cook the cabbage a bit longer. I found that the typical cabbages in the US are generally tougher than the ones I got in Asia. They contain less moisture, too. When I use them in stir-fry dishes, I have to cook them longer, and the texture often ends up a bit chewy. They are not as easily overcooked as green cabbage.
If you do not like your cabbage too chewy, what you can do is add a few tablespoons of chicken stock (homemade stock works best, but you might need to add a bit of water to dilute it) during stir frying, then cover immediately and let it steam for a minute or so. This method is especially useful for savoy cabbage. The cabbage will turn out less chewy this way.
You can also use this recipe to cook napa cabbage. Actually it’s another dish that is very popular on the dinner tables of northern Chinese families. In this case, you’ll need to prepare a small bowl of potato starch slurry (2 teaspoons potato starch plus 1 tablespoon water). Napa cabbage has a much higher water content and will release its liquid during cooking. You can use the slurry to thicken the sauce at the end of cooking.
The dish can be served over steamed rice, or as a side for other cuisines, too. I cooked lamb chops the other day and served this as a side. It worked out wonderfully!
Hope you enjoy 🙂
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- 2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoon peanut oil
- (Optional) 2 to 3 dried chili peppers
- 1 large piece ginger, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 green onion, chopped
- 10 ounces (300 grams) savoy cabbage (or green cabbage, or napa cabbage)
- (Optional) 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- Combine black vinegar, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl. Reserve the rest of the seasonings for the stir fry.
- Cut cabbage into bite size. I usually cut the leaves in half, overlap them, and chop into different sized pieces, to make parts with thicker stem smaller. This will ensure the leaves will be cooked evenly later.
- Add peanut oil and chili peppers into a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium heat until warm. Add the remaining ginger, garlic, and green onion. Stir and cook until sizzling.
- Add cabbage. Stir and cook until the leaves are evenly coated with oil, and the pan turns very hot, about 1 minute.
- Pour in the sauce. Continue to stir and cook until the cabbage is slightly charred and cooked through, about 3 minutes.
- Turn off heat. Carefully taste the cabbage and adjust seasoning by adding salt, if necessary. Drizzle with a bit of sesame oil and stir to mix again. Transfer to serving plate.
- Serve warm over steamed rice or as a side dish.
The nutrition facts are calculated based on 1 of the 2 servings generated by this recipe.
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