Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Steamed napa cabbage - so flavor-packed!

Peapod
A plant of the mustard family - "elongated head" and "crinkled"...sounds weird enough to me. However, the flavor of cabbage does not pale in comparison to its color of pale yellowish green. There is also the purple red cabbage variety with denser, compact heads and smooth, tightly packed, waxy leaves but what I am featuring in WHB#101 at Once upon a tart, is the NAPA CABBAGE.


Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, an excellent source of Vitamins C, has an elongated head-barrel-shaped, of overlapping, tightly wrapped, broad-stalked, long oblong-shaped crinkled leaves that are flat and wide. These leaves are typically eaten as a vegetable in Asian cuisine. Napa cabbage can be served cooked or raw and works particularly well in stir-fries, soups, even curries and salads.

If you find yourself more familiar with (and enjoying) brussels sprouts, you should appreciate cabbage even more, since without the mutation of cabbage, there will be no brussels sprouts. Hey, fall will be in soon! *knock knock*

On choosing a cabbage - get one that feels heavy, with a tight, compact head. If you find that you are looking at some small and light cabbage rounds, it might be those evil grocers who have removed the soft wilted leaves, exposing the inner leaves, to make the cabbage look fresher to you. Take note!

Here is a easy and healthy way to cook napa cabbage. You may not find some of the ingredients such as dried scallops at where you are located. It's ok, this ingredient can be opted out.


Steamed napa cabbage
Ingredients: 1 napa cabbage - blanched in boiling water for less than 1 min, remove water and set aside; dried scallops(option); Canadian bacon (can be substituted with 2 slices of deli ham cut into strips); oyster sauce to taste; water or chicken broth

Directions:
1. Heat 1tsp of oil in pan, lightly fry the bacon/ham; add water/chicken broth and some oyster sauce. Let the broth or gravy base simmer for 1 min.
2. Pour the broth onto the blanched napa cabbage and steam the entire dish for 15-mins or more, till the leaves soften
(Notes: Other uses of Canadian bacon - I made a bacon tower!)

Do not underestimate this simple way of cooking - it can be so flavor-packed


The sweetness of cabbage and the savory broth concocted from dried scallops, bacon, and oyster sauce, all became one tasty entity

You might find a similar dish - steamed napa cabbage in some Shanghai cuisine. They do it a bit differently though. Sometimes you find only heaps of napa cabbage, steamed with some "magic" (I don't know the secret, and don't know if it's MSG) broth that makes the dish so tasty. Whatever, with some oyster sauce and good-quality chicken broth, you can make magic too! :)

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