Chinese cabbage with black pepper and garlic

October 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm (breakfast, B_(3 stars, like), Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Nancie McDermott, Quick weeknight recipe)

I occasionally buy napa cabbage to make this wonderful vietnamese slaw, but then I never know what to do with the leftovers.  I have very few recipes that actually call for napa cabbage.  This time I bought the napa to make kim chee, but the end result was the same—leftover napa cabbage languishing in the crisper drawer.  I searched in my cookbooks for a new recipe to try and found this one in Real Vegetarian Thai by Nancie McDermott.  It’s a really simple recipe.  You just saute up the cabbage with a lot of garlic and a bit of a sweet/salty/soy sauce, and add lots of freshly ground pepper.


  • 1 1/4 pounds napa cabbage, bok choy, water spinach, “regular” spinach, or other leafy Asian cabbage
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable stock or water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. soy sauce (I used 1 tsp.)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I used 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped garlic (8 to 12 cloves)


  1. Trim the napa cabbage or bok choy, cutting away and discarding the core end and cutting the remaining leaves crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces.  Rinse the pieces and drain well, allowing some water to cling to the leaves.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, soy sauce, salt, and pepper and stir well.  Set near the stove.
  3. Heat a wok or a large, deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid over high heat for 30 seconds.  Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan.  ADd the garlic and toss until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the greens and toss until they are coated with oil and begin to wilt, about 1 minute.  Quickly stir the sauce mixture to combine and add to the pan.  Use the vegetable broth/water to get any remaining sugar out of the bowl, and add the broth to the pan.  Toss well and cover immediately.  Cook until the greens are somewhat wilted and tender but still bright green, about 1 to 2 minutes.

My note:

McDermott says her favorite combination is half napa, half bok choy.  I had two baby bok choys in the fridge, so I used those as well.  My bok choy stems were pretty thick, so I put them in first, then the stem ends of the napa, then the tenderer greens.   The dish turned out well.  It’s simple but made a tasty, warming side dish alongside the scrambled eggs Derek made for lunch.

McDermott says that this same recipe can be used for sturdier winter greens like collards or chard, but recommends blanching them for a minute or two beforehand.

Rating: B
Derek: B+

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