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Napa Cabbage Stir-Fry with vinegar sauce

by Shirley
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napa cabbage stir-fry

Napa cabbage stir-fry with Zhenjiang vinegar & soy sauce (醋溜大白菜) is a quick & easy dish. It is amazingly tasty, refreshing, and appetizing. A dish my family always enjoys whenever I make them.

napa cabbage stir fry ingredients

Culture and History about Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage, or “Da Bai Cai” in Chinese (literally translates into a “big white vegetable”) used to play an extremely important role in Beijing during wintertime. Until the approximately middle 90s, napa cabbage is almost the only vegetable Bejing people had during the chilly wintertime.

It is a custom that each household would stock up dozens of napa cabbages right before winter hit. People would wrap each cabbage individually with newspapers and then stack them on top of each other, usually in the courtyard’s corner or in the apartment’s hallway. That wall of napa cabbage would then last the entire wintertime.

However, Bejing isn’t the origin of napa cabbage. The first notation of napa cabbage cultivation was actually in the Yangtze River Area, my hometown during the 15th Century. It then got introduced to Korea and Japan first, and then the rest of Asia.

The word “napa” in the name of napa cabbage comes from regional Japanese, where “nappa” refers to the leaves of vegetables.

Tips & Tricks to make a perfect Napa Cabbage Stir-fry every time

how to cut napa cabbage

The first is to slice the napa cabbage with an angle

How you cut the cabbage plays a huge role in the ultimate taste. You shall place the knife at an angle and then slice the cabbage leaves into a thin layer of pieces. It is the same technique cutting the fish fillet when making fish fillet saute.

The second is to stir-fry in a hot frying pan until it is about to wilt

Napa cabbage stir-fry supposed to taste crunchy. To achieve this, you quickly stir-fry the thin layered pieces in a hot frying pan.

Last but not least, the sauce wraps up the flavor

Once the cabbage is about to wilt, pour the sauce over, stir & mix and wrap up the cabbage in an amazingly appetizing sauce.

napa cabbage stir-fry

4 elements go into the sauce. Soy sauce provides flavor, Zhenjiang Vinegar gives an appetizing & refreshing taste. Soy sauce and Zhenjiang vinegar work very well with each well. Truly complements each other.

Arrowroot flour has become my go-to starch since I jump-started a healthier cooking journey in 2015. It serves as the thickening agent that gives the cabbage the dewy look. A pinch of sugar to balance off the sharp Zhenjiang vinegar taste. I am a fan of organic unrefined cane sugar. Not only they are healthier, but they also provide a subtle, rich flavor that complements the food very well.

Are you making a quick dinner? Consider one of the main courses. Each will go very well with the Napa cabbage stir fry.

napa cabbage stir-fry

Napa Cabbage Stir-Fry with Vinegar Sauce Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Napa cabbage stir-fry with vinegar sauce (醋溜大白菜) is a common everyday dish in northern China. It is quick & easy to make and incredibly appetizing.


For stir-frying cabbage:

  • 1 lb of napa cabbage, part of stems and part of leaves are preferred
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil (or other cooking oil)
  • 5 slices of ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk of green onion, chopped
  • 1 long dried chili pepper, chopped, optional

For the stir-fry sauce:

  • 2 tbsp Zhenjiang Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce or naturally aged soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 tsp organic cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp water


  1. You can either use the bottom half or the vertical half of the napa cabbage. See more in the notes.
  2. Peel cabbage leaves one by one. Wash & rinse well
  3. Cut the cabbage leaves ends off, and then use a knife to slit each cabbage leaf at an angle to create a thin layer of cabbage pieces
  4. Mix the stir fry sauce - add everything under "for the stir fry sauce" namely Zhenjiang vinegar, soy sauce, arrowroot flour, sugar ad water into a small bowl, mix well and set aside
  5. Turn the heat to medium-high, heat the wok for 2 minutes, and then add oil, ginger, minced garlic, green onion, and dried chili pepper. Stir fry for about 15 seconds or till fragrant.
  6. Add cabbage slices into the pan, Stir-fry using a fold & turn motion for 3 minutes, or until cabbage is about to wilt.
  7. Stir the sauce mixture in the bowl to quickly blend them again and then pour evenly into the cabbage in a circular motion, stir and mix for about 30 seconds, or till the sauce bubbles.
  8. All done! Turn off the heat and serve hot.


  • This recipe produces crunchy refreshing cabbage. It is especially suitable for the stem part of the napa cabbage, or the bottom half of the napa cabbage. The top leafy part is usually used to mix with ground pork for dumpling fillings or put into a soup. One cabbage, two ways of eating.
  • However, if you just made dishes such as rice cake stir-fry, for instance, and have used the vertical half of the napa cabbage, then the vertical half will work out well for this recipe too.
  • The cut of the cabbage is important to the final taste of the cabbage. It is the same cut technique as the fish fillet saute.
  • Arrowroot root flour serves as a gluten-free superfood starch. I use arrowroot flour for all my starch needs. You may substitute with your starch option. Starch tends to sink to the bottom of the bowl then set aside. Stir and mix again right before you are ready to use the sauce.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 113Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 0mgSodium 502mgCarbohydrates 17gFiber 2gSugar 2gProtein 3g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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Portal November 25, 2020 - 2:28 am

if i have just signed up but I actually would really like to see a specific letter (Lorelei Lee’s) is there some place i’m able to possibly look at it or obtain a copy somehow?

Shirley DTerry December 5, 2020 - 7:46 pm

Hi there, thank you for signing up. Are you getting my weekly newsletter as a result? Let me know what kind of letter you are referring to.

WWW.XMC.pl November 24, 2020 - 10:38 am

Fairly insightful submit. Never thought that it was this simple after all. I had spent a beneficial deal of my time looking for someone to explain this topic clearly and you’re the only one that ever did that. Kudos to you! Keep it up

Shirley DTerry December 5, 2020 - 7:44 pm

Thank you for your kind words!


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