Growing up, my mom often made stir-fried Napa cabbage as part of our meals. In my mind, Napa cabbage always came cooked, as part of a Chinese family-style meal, with rice and the works. And it IS really good cooked, simply stir-fried with some minced garlic. It has a slight sweetness to it, and doesn’t make you as gassy as normal cabbage (oops, did I just say “gassy” on a food blog? That’s gotta be a big no-no).
It took a trip to California to visit the in-laws for me to learn about this simple, no-brainer, and absolutely delicious way to prepare Napa cabbage. IN A SALAD!!! Hello, light sweet flavor? Crisp, refreshing texture? Wrinkly leaves perfect for catching and holding the flavor of a light sesame dressing? Napa cabbage salad, where have you been all my life? Thank you, thank you, mother-in-law!
It’s so easy to make. Just slice up a whole cabbage with a big knife (discarding the bottom 2 inches or so which are mainly stem), then rinse the leaves and spin them dry. Chop up a cucumber and a yellow pepper – oh how I love the crunch of this salad – and add some soy candied walnuts for extra crunch and sweetness (you can get these pre-made at your local Asian supermarket). A slightly sweet honey-sesame dressing rounds out the flavors and makes this salad distinctly Asian.
Asian Napa Cabbage Salad
1 medium head Napa Cabbage
½ English cucumber, sliced thinly
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup candied walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp olive oil
Slice the whole head of cabbage crosswise into ½ to ¾ inch sections, discarding the bottom two inches of the cabbage. Rinse the cabbage and spin the leaves dry in a salad spinner. Toss cucumber, pepper, and walnuts with cabbage.
Whisk together vinegar, honey, sesame oil and olive oil. Toss with salad. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more vinegar if needed.