Let’s make Chinese vegetable stir fry! This smoky Chinese Style Stir Fried Napa Cabbage Recipe is the perfect takeout-fakeout and is ready in 15 minutes!
How many times have you stood in front of the fridge, staring into a sparse vegetable crisper and thought what the heck am I going to make with THAT? Well, if you’re like me, it happens more than we’d care to admit.
It’s almost enough to make a home chef give up and just order delivery.
However sometimes the best food combinations are the most simple. This Chinese stir fried napa cabbage recipe came to me on a night when I pretty much only had cabbage and a carrot floating around the empty vegetable bin.
Sure – that’s not much to work with, but trust me… it’s packed full of flavor! In fact, now that I’ve made it a handful of times, I wouldn’t change anything about it. I may be biased, but I would say this is easily a Chinese restaurant quality dish.
What does this napa cabbage stir fry taste like?
Just think of the flavors of your favorite Chinese stir fry from the take-out spot you love and you’re halfway there.
There’s a deep savory and smoky essence to this dish that is countered by the brightness and crunch of the veggies. It’s so assertively flavored, that I think you’ll be surprised by how few ingredients actually go into this delicious but simple recipe.
Ingredients for Napa Cabbage Stir Fry
- Vegetable Oil: Any neutral oil will actually work well in this Chinese cabbage recipe. Just beware that olive oil is too assertive in the flavor department.
- Garlic: The pungent sweetness of fresh garlic really contributes a great deal to this recipe. Add it to the pan when you introduce your sauce so the garlic doesn’t overcook.
- Napa Cabbage: This Chinese cabbage has bright green, slightly ruffled leaves at the tips – and veined, white stalks that deliver a pleasant crispy crunch. Think of the texture as a mix between iceberg lettuce and celery. When cooked, napa cabbage does a wonderful job of absorbing the flavors of the stir fry sauce. You’ll need about a pound of napa cabbage, sliced into bite sized pieces for this stir fry recipe.
- Carrot: Slice a small carrot into thin strips for added crunch and a vibrant pop of color.
- Oyster Sauce: This thick, dark brown sauce will provide the majority of flavor to this stir fry. Made of oyster extracts and thickened with cornstarch, it has the deep savory flavors of the sea – contrasted by a bit of sweetness around the edges. Pick it up at your local Asian grocery store, or grab oyster sauce on Amazon.
- Soy Sauce: This is the second part of your simple stir fry sauce. Umami for days!
- Potato Starch or Cornstarch: Mixing potato starch with a bit of water will thicken the sauce and give you that trademark thickness so common in Chinese stir fry recipes.
- Sesame Oil: Add a bit of this luxurious oil at the end of the cooking process to introduce a toasted, nutty essence to the dish. A little goes a long way!
- Salt and Ground White Pepper: White pepper has a hot, almost floral flavor and is the perfect finishing touch.
While this is a great and easy napa cabbage stir fry as is, here is a list of alternative ingredients that are common in other similar recipes. If you feel like switching things up next time in the kitchen, this is a good starting point.
- Hoisin sauce
- Sour sauce
- Red chili flakes (great if you want a kick of spice)
- Green chilies (another great addition if you like heat)
- Green onions, sprinkled on top for a little crunch
- Toasted sesame seeds
How to Make Stir Fried Napa Cabbage
- Heat a small pan over high heat for about 1 minute. Once your pan is hot, add oil and swirl to coat the surface of the pan evenly. Stir fry your napa cabbage and sliced carrots for 4 minutes.
- Next, add your oyster sauce, soy sauce and minced garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute.
- Add your potato starch and water mixture and cook for an additional minute. This will cause the sauce to thicken.
- Then add your sesame oil, stir well – and turn the heat off.
- Finally, season with salt and ground white pepper before serving.
What is Napa Cabbage?
Napa cabbage is a Chinese cabbage said to have originated near Beijing, China. It’s a popular vegetable used in many traditional and modern East Asian dishes. Due to increased popularity in the 20th century, it is now more common to find this cabbage across Europe and America as well. It’s often referred to as ‘Chinese cabbage” outside of China, and is used in salads, soups, stews, stir fries, or simply grilled with a little salt and pepper, as a side dish.
What Part of a Napa Cabbage is Edible?
From the outer leaves, its “white veins”, chunky core, and other leafy bits, all the parts of a napa cabbage is safe to eat. Often, these white pieces are chopped up or shredded and used in slaw—so no parts of this versatile vegetable has to go to waste!
What Dishes Can I Make with Napa Cabbage?
As mentioned briefly above, you can use napa cabbage to make slaw, soup, and stir fry recipes. You can also place them over ramen or glass noodles too. If you really want to get creative, you can even venture as far as making them into delicious stuffed cabbage rolls. Adding a few shredded leaves to an egg drop soup is also delicious. The options are endless when it comes to this versatile vegetable.
How do you like to use your napa cabbage? I’d love to hear all about your favorite napa cabbage dish. Let me know in the comments below!
What to Serve with Stir Fried Napa Cabbage
Now I’ve always been a fan of eating Chinese veggies with a side of shrimp fried rice. Actually, it’s one of my favorite movie-night food combinations.
However, if you’re in a rush or keeping dinner on the lighter side of things, this easy napa cabbage recipe would be wonderful with a simple side of perfectly cooked white rice. Check out my post on how to make rice on the stove top AND in a rice cooker.
Alternatively, for those nights you’re looking to whip up a full on Chinese feast, check out these other delicious and easy Chinese recipes:
Chinese Dishes To Pair with Stir Fried Napa Cabbage
Did you like this stir fried napa cabbage dish? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? I would love to hear about your favorite recipes that include napa cabbage! Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below.Print
Chinese Restaurant Style Stir Fried Napa Cabbage
You’ll be proud to serve this Chinese stir fried napa cabbage for dinner tonight. It’s got flavor for days!
- Prep Time: 7 minutes
- Cook Time: 8 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 2 1x
- Category: Asian
- Method: Stir Fried
- Cuisine: Chinese
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or salad oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 large napa cabbage (about 1 pound), sliced into bite size pieces
- 1 small carrot, sliced into strips
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon potato starch or cornstarch mixed with 6 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Salt and ground white pepper, to taste
- Place a large pan over high heat and wait 1 minute. When the pan is hot, add oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add cabbage and carrots and stir fry for 4 minutes
- Add oyster sauce, soy sauce and garlic – and cook for 1 minute
- Next, add potato starch and water mixture and cook for one minute, stirring until the sauce thickens.
- Add sesame oil, stir well and turn the heat off.
- Season with salt and ground white pepper and serve.
You can keep leftovers of this napa cabbage stir fry covered in the fridge for 1-2 days.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 189
- Sugar: 1.6g
- Sodium: 751.5mg
- Fat: 14.1g
- Saturated Fat: 6.5g
- Unsaturated Fat: 3g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 16.4g
- Fiber: 0.8g
- Protein: 3.7g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
This recipe was awesome! I followed it to a tee which I never do! I’m curious though, have you ever tried this recipe with a regular round cabbage?
This one is a keeper. The ingredients renders a delicious sauce that I paired with white Basmati rice. You can probably play with the spices and turn it into a curry. Thank you for sharing this recipe.
Easy, fast and tasty.
Super simple and restaurant quality!
This was soooo tasty, very rich and elegant flavors. Maybe even better than takeout!!!
Thank you so much Julia! 🙂
This was the perfect way to use up my leftover Napa cabbage, and it really gave me restaurant takeout vibes!!! It was yummy and crunchy and sweet and gooey. I will definitely be making this a part of my regular repertoire.
Thank you Julia for the kind comment, I’m so happy you like the stir fry! 🙂
Made this tonight and wow is it ever delicious! I will be eating this a lot and experimenting with adding proteins and additional vegetables like water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. Thanks very much for sharing this recipe.
Thank you so much Ron! It’s one of my favorite stir fry recipes because it’s so easy to make and goes with everything 🙂
This recipe sounds incredible! I’ve been wanting to explore the different options when it comes to pickling. I can’t wait to try. Thank you for sharing!
I added chicken, straw mushrooms, and water chestnutS. I made this recipe times four. It is absolutely amazing! Better than the local Chinese restaurant. Thank you!
Thank you Donna! 🙂
I love to make potstickers, but never know what to do with the leftover napa cabbage. Now I know!! This recipe was simple and delicious. Now, I may be making potstickers with the leftovers from this recipe!
Added 1 chicken breast. 4 people eating it. No leftovers. Delicious!
This was easy and delicious! Next time I think I’ll add some chicken breast to make it a complete meal!
Thank you Lea! 🙂
so good! Loved this recipe! I added some tofu after the cabbage wilted down and it was delicious! Will be making this recipe again thanks!
The addition of tofu is a great idea Eve!