Posts Tagged 'napa cabbage'

Napa Cabbage Slaw

The other day my friend and I were talking about time.  Having time, finding time, and making time.  I know none of this is new, but I think it’s a good reminder.  Basically the bottom line, no matter how OMGSOBUSY you are, is that if you really want to do something, you’ll make time to do it.  It might mean unpleasant sacrifices, getting up at ungodly hours, and going longer than is socially acceptable without showering, but if you’re determined to find time for something, you have to make that time.

I will always make time for this kid.

I am lucky in that as a teacher, I have a decent amount of time (especially right now, between my summer job and the start of the school year).  I don’t know what it’s like to try and work crazy hours while training for an Ironman like this total badass, but I do have my own share of things going on, and I try to prioritize time with my kid, time on the roads, and time in the kitchen (in that order).  It sometimes means this blog gets a little neglected or I miss out on a little bit of sleep, but I made a rule for myself that I need to run at least 30 miles a week (unless sick or injured), and I do what I can to stick to that.

Please remind me of this in October when work is kicking my rear, I’m reaching peak volume of marathon training, and all I want to do is nap on the couch.

Another totally obvious realization I made was that if I never had time for something, it was because deep down, I didn’t really want to do it.  I spent months trying to find the time to go to yoga before I realized I’d much rather either go for a run or sleep.  Similarly, I used to wonder how I’d ever find time to decorate cookies like these, before remembering that I’m much more into the throw-together-basic-chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-and-eat-half-the-batter style of baker.  And I’m okay with that. (But damn, those cookies are beautiful).

Anyway, I made some  slaw to go with baked tofu and rice and was pleasantly surprised with how delicious raw bok choy can be, since I’ve only had it cooked before.  The ume plum vinegar is worth seeking out at an Asian grocery store or Whole Foods – it’s salty with an intoxicating sweet and sour ending and it is great with the earthiness of the sesame oil.  The original recipe didn’t have any sweetener in the dressing but I like my slaw a little sweet so I added a little agave.

Leftovers make great lunch! To make the tofu, I just brushed some Bragg’s Liquid Aminos over extra firm tofu slices and pan-fried them until browned and crisp on the outside.


(adapted from Clean Food)



Having never been to Japan, I have no idea whether or not this is authentic. A close relative of these Korean pancakes, this has a light, fluffy texture thanks to the water and small amount of flour mixed in with the egg. There are also lots of great flavors coming together, between the serrano chiles and red onions inside, and the fancied-up ketchup, nori, and sesame seeds on top.

I made this for dinner at a friend’s house and the pictures were terrible. I thought about blogging it anyway, but I know how unappealing photos can ruin any chance a reader will ever try a recipe. I was stoked when Mike asked for this for dinner only a few days later, both because it’s really fast and easy, and because it was still light out. After pulling it off the stove and adding the toppings, I took it out to my front porch, which is where the best light is in the evenings. Maybe not the perfect photo, but a whole lot better than the one I started with.

And now, my wonderful readers, I want to hear from you about your okonomiyaki, because I have a feeling this will be in the dinner rotation a lot. If you’ve got your own recipe, or ideas for toppings, please let me know in the comments!

(adapted from Asian Vegetables by Sara Deseran)

3 eggs
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp soy sauce
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups finely shredded napa cabbage
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
2 tbsp canola oil

1/3 cup ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp dry mustard
2 tbsp sake
1 tsp soy sauce

crumbled nori
toasted sesame seeds

Combine all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

To make the pancake, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add the water and whisk until blended, then stir in the soy sauce, salt, flour, and vegetables.

Heat the oil in a 10″ skillet. When hot, add the egg mixture and cook until golden brown on the bottom (about five minutes). Carefully slide the pancake onto a plate, then invert so the raw side is down in the pan. Cook for another few minutes, until that side is also golden. Transfer to a serving plate, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with nori and sesame seeds. Cut into wedges to serve.


Spicy fermented cabbage doesn’t seem like a good idea, and the first time I tried it, I wondered how it had possibly gotten so popular in Korea. But after prolonged exposure during the time we lived there, I came to love it. I may not miss my life in Korea very much, but I really do miss the availability of kimchi with every meal.

My first attempt at making my own was pretty much horrible. Not enough salt, the wrong kind of chili powder, and a pretty major miscalculation when scaling the recipe left me with a bland jar full of mushy cabbage. No thanks.

This time I pulled from a bunch of different places, recalled what our downstairs neighbors always did on Sunday nights, and bought some gochugaru, which is ESSENTIAL (order it online if you can’t find it in the store). This batch is much better, and now I can have a nice big jar of kimchi in the fridge at all times!

1 very large head Napa cabbage or 2 medium-sized heads
3/4 cup kosher salt
1 tbsp flour
1 cup water
3/4 cup gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp sugar

Cut the cabbage vertically in quarters. Place in a large bowl.

Put the salt between each of the leaves, weight with a heavy pot, and let sit for about 4 hours.

Rinse the cabbage several times.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, water, gochugaru, ginger, garlic, and sugar so you have a paste. Spread a little of this between each of the leaves, then pack very tightly into a large, clean jar. Press down firmly, then add just enough water to cover (which shouldn’t be much if the cabbage is tightly packed), seal the jar, and leave on the counter to ferment for two to three days. (Less time if the room is warm, more time if the room is cool).

Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to age for at least a week. It should keep for about a month or two.

Vegetarian Pot Stickers

I thought pot stickers were one of those things I’d never eat again when I stopped eating meat. Of course it’s possible to make them without meat but the few vegetarian pot stickers I tried before were definitely not worth eating. These, however, have a great mix of vegetables and crumbled tempeh, and are flavored with mushrooms and grated ginger. Paired with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce there isn’t much out there I’d rather eat.

Even if you’re not vegetarian, I HIGHLY recommend the blog Herbivoracious. It’s beautiful, healthy food and a lot of the recipes involve Asian flavors, which I totally love. This was the first of MANY recipes I plan to try from that blog!

(adapted from Herbivoracious)

8 oz tempeh, sliced very thinly
1 1/2 tbsp + 1 tsp + 1 tsp canola oil
1 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage
6 green onions (white and light green parts only), minced
12 small brown button mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1 pinch sugar
1 egg
1 10-ounce package of potsticker wrappers
canola oil and water for cooking

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of oil in a wide skillet. Add the tempeh in a single layer and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides. Set aside to cool, then crumble into a medium bowl.

Add 1 tsp of oil to the pan after removing the tempeh. Add the napa cabbage and stir fry for a few minutes, until most of the moisture is gone. Add to the tempeh.

Heat the remaining tsp of oil in the pan and add the mushrooms. Stir fry for a few minutes (until soft), then add the wine. Cook another 30 seconds, then transfer to the bowl with the tempeh and cabbage.

Stir in the ginger, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, egg and sugar.

To assemble:
Have a small bowl of water handy.
Place one pot sticker wrapper on your work surface, and put about 2 tsp of filling in the middle (definitely err on the side of less filling…it will be much easier to crimp that way).

Dip your finger in the water and trace halfway around the circumference of the wrapper.

Fold the wrapper in half, sealing the filling inside.

Crimp the seal between your fingers.

Now repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

If you want to freeze the pot stickers for later use, line a baking sheet with parchment and arrange them so they are not touching.  Put the tray in the freezer until they are completely frozen, several hours.  Then transfer them to freezer bags until ready to use.  You won’t need to defrost them,  just cook them as follows straight from the freezer.

To cook:

Heat 1 tbsp of water in a wide frying pan with a tight-fitting lid.  Add the pot stickers so they are not touching.  Cook for about 2 minutes, or until golden on the bottom.  Add 1/3 cup water and immediately cover the pan.  Cook for about 3 minutes,  then remove the lid and continue cooking until all the water has evaporated.

Serve with soy sauce and rice vinegar mixed in equal proportions.

My favorite vegetable soup

veg soup

There’s something extraordinarily comforting about eating creamy soups when the weather gets cool. As a kid, I gravitated towards Campbell’s Cream of Asparagus with so many crushed Saltines in it that it basically solidified. These days I stay away from canned soups, but they’ve been replaced with something MUCH better.

The inspiration for this soup came from The New Moosewood Cookbook. I’ve made the recipe dozens of times, but have made quite a few of my own changes, adapting to whatever happens to be fresh at the farmer’s market or languishing in my refrigerator. It’s the perfect way to use whatever vegetables may be remaining from other recipes, and can be easily adjusted to feed a whole crowd or just you. It’s perfect with a green salad and big chunk of whole grain bread, and it will keep for a few days in the refrigerator with no ill effects.

I use 2% milk because it gives the soup a little more body than skim or 1% would. I’m not sure how soy or rice milk would work here, but if you try it with either of them, let me know! I like my soup really chunky, so I’ve scaled down the amount of liquid I add, but you can certainly add more if it looks a little thick to you.

4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small head broccoli, roughly chopped
2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper
2 cups water
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup shredded Napa cabbage

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large soup pot over medium. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, and broccoli and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.
Stir in the basil and cook an additional minute.
Pour in the water (it should just cover the vegetables, but if it doesn’t, add a little extra). Cover the pot and simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes (until the vegetables are tender).
Remove the cover and add the milk. Stir well, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
When heated through, stir in the Napa cabbage.
Mix well, then serve.

Asian Spa Salad


There is a mediocre (at best) restaurant in the town where I went to college, and I’m now ashamed when I think about how often I ate there. I always ordered the Asian Spa Salad which, in retrospect, was really pretty terrible: a bunch of iceberg lettuce in a fat free, chemical-laden, overly sweet dressing with chunks of rubbery chicken.

I realized that the idea of the salad was great – light and healthy with lots of lean protein, vegetables and a nice orange-soy flavored dressing – but the execution left a lot to be desired. To say that this is a big improvement on that horrendous salad is a gross understatement!

Weekends are my cooking project time. Last weekend it was vegan arroz con leche with brown rice (still working the kinks out of that one), and this weekend it was the Asian Spa Salad (new and improved). I started with Napa cabbage, but realized it looks a little anemic on its own.

I added some spinach because it’s just so healthy and beautiful and green.

There are also some thin slices of green onion in there.

For the dressing, I boiled some orange juice, soy sauce, and mirin until it was nice and syrupy (and finally broke my streak of adding sugar to salad dressing!) I marinated some chicken in soy sauce and chopped garlic and let it sit for about 8 hours. If you think marinades need to be fancy, complicated affairs with multiple spices, vinegars, oils, and fruit juices, think again! This 2-ingredient marinade was absolutely perfect.

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts*
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups shredded Napa cabbage
2 cups shredded spinach (cut the leaves into strips)
3 tbsp thinly sliced green onion
1 medium carrot, shaved into strips with a vegetable peeler
2 tsbp sesame seeds

1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil

*I prefer bone-in, skin-on because I think the meat cooks up nicely and I love having bones around to use in stock. But if you prefer, boneless skinless will be fine – they will just cook faster.

Put the soy sauce, garlic, and chicken in a shallow bowl and turn the chicken pieces to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.
Cook the chicken in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes (check after about 20 if you’re using boneless-skinless) or until the internal temperature is 165 F.
Remove and set aside to cool.

While the chicken is in the oven, boil the orange juice, soy sauce, and mirin together until thick, syrupy, and reduced by half. Remove from the heat to cool, then stir in the sesame oil.

Pull the skin off the chicken and cut the meat off the bone. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Toss together the cabbage, spinach, carrot, green onions, and add the dressing.
Toss in the chicken, then sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.

Thai Noodle Salad

Thai Noodle Salad 1

I am and have always been a morning person. So when I found out my working hours in Korea would be 3-10 PM, I wasn’t quite sure how I would cope with having to be a functional human after about 7:00 at night. Fortunately, the schedule seems to be working out, and it’s probably the best thing that ever happened to the food photography on this blog!

I now cook at about 11 AM, then pack up what I made to take to work for dinner. As a result, all my cooking is done during daylight hours, giving me much better light for pictures.

I know using lemon juice is not authentically Thai, but I couldn’t find limes at my grocery store. Either type will work, but if you crave authenticity, reach for the limes. If you have an aversion to fish sauce, or are vegetarian, soy sauce would probably work as a substitution, but I haven’t tried it yet. If you do, let me know how it tastes!

(adapted from Orangette)

Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 limes)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp rice vinegar
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 hot red chili, finely chopped (omit if you don’t like spicy food)

Combine all ingredients, and taste. (This is really important! If it’s too fishy, add a little sugar and vinegar…if too sweet, add a little vinegar and/or fish sauce). Add a little water if the dressing seems to sugary and thick (again, this will depend on how you alter it to suit your tastes).

12 ounces tofu (or you could use a chicken breast or two)
1 1/2 cups julienned napa cabbage
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 carrot, julienned
10 ounces rice noodles
1/4 cup roughly chopped peanuts

Cut the tofu (or chicken) into bite-sized pieces and cook in a frying pan. (Tofu should be brown on all sides; chicken should be fully cooked). Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the vegetables and tofu.
Cook the rice noodles according to package instructions, drain, and rinse with cold water. Add to the bowl of vegetables.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.
Sprinkle with peanuts to serve.


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