Happy accidents. I had leftover napa cabbage after making a batch of gyoza and I found this simple recipe in the back of the vegetable section of one of my favorite cookbooks. I wasn’t expecting much—I just needed something easy to use up the remaining cabbage—so I was surprised at how much I loved it.
Japanese food has a lot of sweet notes, so this was a welcomed break from that. The ginger perfumes the dish, but what makes this addictive is the splash of vinegar. This was a perfect combination of sour and salty, with a hint of sweetness coming from the cabbage itself. I’m endlessly amazed at how a few simple ingredients can transform into something so delicious.
4 Tbsp canola oil, divided
21 oz/600g napa cabbage (about 1/2 small cabbage)
1/3 tsp salt
1-inch section ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
1 Tbsp shoyu
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp katakuriko (potato starch)
In a small bowl, mix the katakuriko with 1 tsp water and set aside. Cut the napa cabbage crosswise in 1–1.5 inch sections and separate white stems from leafy light green ends.
In a 12-inch frying pan, heat 3 Tbsp oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the white stems and fry until translucent (about 6 mins), stirring occasionally. Add the leafy greens and stir to coat with oil. Add salt and toss to combine. Fry until soft and moisture is released (about 5 mins), stirring frequently. Remove from heat and place the cabbage in a sieve to drain oil and water. Set aside.
Return the pan to the stove and heat 1 Tbsp oil. Add sliced ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 min. Add shoyu and vinegar, then return the cabbage to the pan and incorporate well with the shoyu and vinegar. Once combined, take the small bowl with the katakuriko mixture and stir with your finger, then drizzle over the cabbage. Quickly incorporate until sauce has thickened.