Chinese cabbage bake

Ming-Cheau Lin grew up in a Taiwanese household in Bloemfontein. She’s the pastry-lover behind Butterfingers and was recently inspired by an article published here, on Spatula, about how to grow Chinese cabbage.

Here she shares her recipe for Chinese (or napa) cabbage bake.

Growing up in South Africa made it hard to find fresh Asian vegetables, however, we always managed to find Chinese cabbage in Asian stores and it’s now available in most supermarkets. The napa cabbage is commonly known as Chinese cabbage but because there are so many different types of Chinese cabbage, it’s safer to say napa cabbage.
We call it 大白菜 – dàbáicài directly translated as ‘large white vegetable’ owing to its lightness in colour compared to most cabbages. Its flavour is somewhat mild and sweet, containing more nutrition than an ordinary cabbage.

This Chinese cabbage bake is a very simple dish to make, similar to a potato bake.

Ingredients (serves 4 people):
1 napa cabbage
1 onion (chopped)
1 drizzle of oil for frying
3 cloves of garlic (peeled and flattened)
1 tbsp of dried shrimp
Salt and pepper to taste

For the white sauce paste:
3 tsp of butter
½ cup of flour
½ cup of milk

Prepare the cabbage. Take off the wilted outside layers (2 or 3 layers). Chop it in half against the grain. Chop thick slices. Place in a large bowl and wash the cabbage by allowing the soil to fall to the bottom of the bowl and rinse. Repeat 3 times.
2. Slice the onion.
3. Flatten the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and fry in a wok or pan with your dried shrimp. Add the onion and fry for 3 minutes.
4. Add the cabbage, cover your wok/pan with a  lid and fry.
5. Once the cabbage is soft, take it out and drain the juices from the wok into a container. Leave these juices to cool.
6. In a separate pan, make the white sauce paste. Melt the butter on a low heat and slowly sprinkle in a little flour while whisking until it becomes a ball. Pour in your milk, bit by bit, whisking slowly until all the ingredients are combined.
7. Pour your cooled cabbage juices into your white sauce and mix.
8. Mix a quarter of your white sauce paste with the cooked napa cabbage.
9. Place this cabbage into an oven-proof dish and layer the top with the left over paste. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top.
10. Bake for 15 minutes at 180°C until the paste is golden brown and crispy on top.

Serve hot.

Many thanks Ming-Cheau. Great inspiration for planting our own Chinese cabbage this winter.