A simple quick and easy Chinese stir-fried cabbage side dish made by caramelizing cabbage on high heat to give it a bit of char but still retains a crisp texture and then tossed with a sweet ginger soy sauce.
Table of Contents
On its own, I find cabbage doesn't have a lot of flavors except for a bit of sweetness when cooked, so I like to add a bit of char to it, which I find really brings out the nutty flavor to cabbage.
When cooked, cabbage has a natural sweetness to it, so I enhanced the sweetness a bit more with a sweet ginger soy sauce which brings everything together quite well with that extra char flavor.
There is no meat in this dish, since I chose to make this into a simple vegetable side dish but if you want to make this into a meal you definitely can add some meat in - leftover meats especially work great with this stir-fried cabbage recipe.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Cabbage - I like to use the standard green cabbage for this recipe.
- Ginger/Garlic/Onion - These three trio will give a lot of extra flavor to this dish and should not be omitted.
- Dashi powder - this is an optional ingredient for this fried cabbage recipe. It adds a bit more salt, and a slight smoky umami flavor but is not required. Although I highly recommend buying a small jar if you do a lot of stir fries or fried noodle dishes. A teaspoon of this adds quite a bit of umami flavor for any kind of stir-fried and noodle dishes. You can find this at any Japanese, or Korean grocery store. You can also find dashi powder online if you cannot find it locally.
- Maple Syrup - I like to use maple syrup because it's a touch less sweet and it's what I usually have on hand, but you can substitute this with honey as well.
- Soy Sauce - I like to use regular soy sauce for this recipe, but you can substitute it with low-sodium soy sauce as well.
- Butter - Adding butter gives this dish a bit more flavor but it also helps the cabbage char against the pan and gives it a nice caramelization to it.
How to Make Stir-Fried Cabbage
How I Like to Remove the Cores of Cabbages
Personally, I find cutting cabbage to be a bit of a pain because of how tough it is to cut through and how wobbly it can be but once I get the core out - cutting it is a breeze.
To cut out the core, I like to first cut the cabbage in half. Once I cut it in half I cut an upside 'V' out of the bottom to remove the core. Once the core is out, I usually like to cut the cabbage halves in half again before slicing for smaller bite-sized cabbage leaves.
Do You Really Need to Grate the Ginger?
No, you don't have to grate the ginger, but if don't then you should keep the ginger intact in larger slices.
Grating the ginger helps spread the ginger flavor into the cabbage and the sauce without biting into large chunks of ginger (which can be overpowering) while you are eating the cabbage.
Not everyone has a grater small enough to grate ginger though, so to work around that you can slice the ginger into large slices. That way, you can still brown the ginger in the beginning with the garlic to infuse the oils with ginger flavor and when you are finished cooking, you can easily fish out and discard the large ginger pieces.
Caramelizing Cabbage Without Burning the Onions
Caramelizing the cabbage and giving it a bit of char gives this dish a bit more flavor, but onions cook and burn a lot faster than cabbage so my workaround to charring the cabbage without burning the onions is to add the onions after the first round of cabbage charring. Don't worry, the onions will cook along with the cabbage during the cabbage's second round of charring. (There are 2 rounds if charring in total)
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Chinese Stir-Fried Cabbage with Ginger Soy
- Grating the ginger helps spread the ginger flavor throughout the dish so that you don't bite into chunks of ginger (which can be very overpowering). If you can't grate the ginger, cut it into slices instead. Once you are done cooking, you can easily remove the ginger slices before serving the cabbage.
- ½ cabbage
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cm x 2cm ginger (grated)
- ½ tablespoon butter
- Cut the cabbage in half, and then cut out the core by cutting an upside V around the cabbage core. Slice the cabbage into slices and set it aside for later.Alternatively, if you like larger pieces of cabbage, you can also hand shred them into small pieces as well instead of cutting it.
- Thinly slice the onion into ¼ inch slices and set it aside
- Peel the garlic and finely chop it and set it aside
- Grate the ginger and set it aside (if you don't grate the ginger, cut them into slices instead, so you can remove them later before serving)
Making the Sauce
- In a small bowl combine warm water, maple syrup (or honey), soy sauce, and Hondashi dashi powder (optional) and set aside
Putting It Together
- In a large frying pan, add a bit of oil and ½ tablespoon of butter and set the stove to medium high heat
- Add the garlic and ginger and brown it for approximately 1 minute until it is slightly brown and fragrant. Make sure to move it around so it doesn't burn
- Add the cabbage into the frying pan and mix everything together.Flip the garlic and ginger from the bottom of the pan and set them on top of the cabbage so that they don't burn
- Add the onions on top of the cabbage
- Let the cabbage char in the pan by letting it cook and not touching it for about 1-2 minutes
- Once 1-2 minutes pass, stir the cabbage around and mix the onions into it. Once it is well mixed, let it sit untouched again for another 1-2 minutes to let the onions and cabbage char again
- Once the 1-2 minutes has passed again, add in the sauce and mix the cabbage well with the sauce and let the cabbage soften by letting it cook for another 1 minute
- Turn off the heat and plate it and enjoy with rice or noodles. (If you used sliced ginger, remove the ginger slices)
*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*
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