Napa cabbage is widely used in China, Japan, and Korea. Napa cabbage is used as a sign of prosperity in China, and often appears as a symbol in glass and porcelain figures. The Jadeite Cabbage sculpture of Taiwan's National Palace Museum is a carving of a napa cabbage variety.
In Korean cuisine, napa cabbage is the main ingredient of kimchi,
but is also eaten raw as a wrap! The outer, tougher leaves are used in soups. It can be used in stir-fry with other ingredients such as tofu, mushroom and zucchini. It is also eaten with hot pot meals, as cooked in a broth, the sweetness of this vegetable is really brought out.
While I love to add it to stir-fries, noodle broths, and hot-pot, my current favourite way to dress it up a bit, is to steam it and slather it with a spicy nut sauce!!! I alternate between using peanut butter, or fresh macadamia nuts, it depends what I have on hand and who I'm cooking for. You will need a good blender to make this sauce. Although if you are using peanut butter instead of raw nuts, you can probably mix it pretty well by hand.
Napa in a nut sauce
1 head of napa cabbage
1/2 cup of other vegetables (carrot, pepper, mushroom... whatever)
1 tsp coconut oil for frying.
1 cup water (or stock) for steaming.
1 cup of cubed chicken, or tofu, or tempeh, or FIRM fish (optional).
2 Tblsp peanut butter, or mac nuts, or even sunflower seeds if that's what you have
1 tsp tamari/soy sauce
splash of hot sauce
1/2 cup of coconut/rice/almond/hemp milk
1 tsp salt
1 clove of fresh garlic, or 1 tsp crushed garlic (you could use ginger instead if you prefer).
Hot sauce or hot pepper - to taste
Prepping the cabbage: Take hold of the entire head of cabbage, and pin its leaves in with one hand, with the other hand holding a large sharp knife, cut the root end off, then continue cutting in about 1.5 inch intervals. Gather up all your cabbage pieces and submerge them in a dish-tub or large bowl of cold water. Because cabbage makes a great home for little bugs, I like to soak my cut leaves for 10 minutes, allowing any hidden creatures to dislodge and be rinsed out. (I actually do this step as soon as I get my organic cabbage, then store it washed and sliced in a large lidded tub in the fridge).
While the leaves are soaking, prepare your other vegetables. This is all preference, but I like onion, carrot, mushroom, chayote, or whatever else I happen to have on hand. Cut them into bite size pieces and begin to fry them up in a bit of coconut oil.
Drain the napa leaves, and add them, 1 handful at a time, to your sizzling pan, stirring as they wilt to allow room for the next handful. When the pan is full, add a cup of water and put a lid on the pan, so that the cabbage leaves steam through properly. (If you like extra flavour, you can use a cup of soup stock here instead of water).
Fry your cubed protein if using, on a seperate hot pan, until browned on all sides and cooked through, and set aside.
While this is cooking, (it should steam in the liquid for about 10 minutes until quite tender, on med-low), you can make the nut sauce!
Simply place all of the ingredients into your blender, and blend. Whallah! delicious nut sauce, done. I like quite a bit of spice, so I add a good tsp of tabasco, or a whole Hawaiian chilli, or a Tbsp of Sriracha to mine.. but that's got to be to taste!
Mix everything together and serve! It looks prettier when you drizzle the sauce on top, but sometimes tastes better when you just toss the whole thing up in the sauce before serving - that part is up to you.