Taiwanese cabbage is flat instead of spherical like the green cabbage we see in most American grocery stores. Taiwanese cabbage is less dense than American cabbage, and its layers, as you can kind of see in the picture, are more loosely packed. Its layers are thinner, and crisp up very well when cooked. In general, the taste is lighter and more refreshing than normal green cabbage, in my opinion. Below is a picture of the Murdoc cabbage from this week’s CSA. I believe its alternate name is ‘pointed head cabbage’- the cabbage looks like a little cone (pre-cutting, obviously)! It’s pretty cool. The picture on the right is “Taiwan cabbage” apparently, and ignore the yellow, but it’s the only picture with a cross section I could find. I found Murdoc cabbage to be a great substitute for Taiwanese cabbage, and good thing, because that was one big cabbage!
Murdoc cabbage is on the left; Taiwanese cabbage is on the right. Look at the loosely packed leaves!
Today I’m sharing the recipe for a standby cabbage stir-fry dish…cabbage and garlic, up a notch. My mom used to cook cabbage and garlic for us, as a simple and tasty vegetables. I have since come to really love the Taiwanese cabbage.
For best results, cook this cabbage on the highest heat you can without burning the garlic (hence the slices instead of minced or chopped). The high heat helps to evaporate the water that is being released by the cabbage, so that it doesn’t just get boiled. I’m sure most people have eaten some iteration of cabbage and garlic, but I like this cooking method because I feel that the ginger gives the cabbage an extra dimension besides garlic alone. The heat from the peppers is also nice to lift the dish a bit. This would be a good accompaniment to any Chinese or even just Asian meal that needs some vegetables.
Tim loves this stuff, and perks up when hears that cabbage will be in the dinner spread. I hope you will love it, too! 🙂
Stir-Fried Taiwanese Cabbage
serves 2 as part of a multi-dish dinner (yields 2 cups post-cooking)
inspired by this recipe and this also
1 thin slice of ginger (1/4″ to 1/2″), cut into 2 or 3 pieces
4-6 garlic cloves, cut thickly lengthwise
1+ red chili peppers, sliced thinly (optional)
1 Tbsp oil
1/4 head cabbage (about 4 cups), cut into about 1-1 1/2 inch squares
1/2 to 1 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
1) Separate the chunks of cut cabbage into its individual leaves. This will help them cook more evenly and quickly.
2) Heat ginger, garlic, peppers, and oil in a wok on low/medium low until they just start to smell.
3) Immediately add cabbage, stir quickly to move aromatics around, and increase the heat. Saute until cabbage starts to lose water and turn more translucent. Add salt and continue to saute until the cabbage is cooked. If you are in doubt of the doneness of the cabbage, taste a piece! Also, the volume of the cabbage will shrink by about 2 when it is completely cooked.
4)Take out ginger slices if you like (hence the thick slicing instructions).
-Turn the heat down and add salt earlier, to turn this into a dish with juicy, tender cabbage.
-I used long red peppers that HMart labeled something like “Thai Finger Long Peppers”. I’ve also used bird’s eye chilies, which are spicier.
-I personally really dislike biting into ginger, so I pick around it, but you can also take out the slices once the dish is cooked.
-Murdoc cabbage, or pointed head cabbage, is extremely similar in both taste and texture as Taiwanese cabbage. Use it as a substitute if you, like me, received it in your CSA share.
-Green cabbage is okay in this dish, but it definitely won’t have the same texture, which I think is half of the enjoyment of eating this! But, you can be the judge of that, if and when you try it.