This is another of TastyAsia‘s “fast and easy” recipes, meaning that the dish can be prepared start to finish in the time it takes to cook the rice. It’s also light, fresh, spicy, and delicious. Chinese cabbage, also called napa cabbage, has a delicate and slightly mustardy flavor that goes very well with the shrimp and the chili.
Start with a medium-sized head of Chinese cabbage, called 大白菜 (dà báicài) in China.
Slice the cabbage into thin strips. It’s okay to be a little rough with the slicing, so don’t worry if the slices aren’t uniformly thick.
In addition to minced garlic, the other fresh aromatic herb for this recipe is scallions. Use about four and slice them into smallish “horse ear” slices.
This recipe also uses two tasty pastes. The shrimp paste is salty…
… while the chili paste is quite hot. Not every chili paste is equally spicy, so get to know your ingredients. This brand, from Thailand, is impressively hot.
The actual cooking is simple and easy.
INGREDIENTS and PREP:
- 1 medium napa cabbage, sliced into strips about 1/8″ thick
- 4 cloves garlic, minced finely
- 4 scallions, cut into thin “horse ear” slices (see photo), and 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 Tbsp shrimp paste, 1-2 tsp fried chili paste
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- Heat your wok with 2 Tbsp oil on medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the sliced cabbage (#1) and stir-fry for about a minute until it just begins to wilt. Then add the garlic (#2) and continue stir-frying for another minute so that the garlic is mixed in and cooked through.
- Add the scallions and cilantro (#3) and continue stirring, just until mixed. Then add the shrimp and chili pastes (#4) and stir-fry until heated and mixed, just another few seconds.
- Turn off the heat and drizzle the sesame oil over the cabbage, giving everything one final stir to distribute the oil.
- Serve with rice and contrasting dishes.
Variations: This dish can go in several entirely different directions. First, it’s easily made vegan by substituting regular or dark soy sauce for the shrimp paste. Alternatively, for a more northern Chinese taste, you can omit the chili paste and add some ginger to the garlic (#2). Finally, you could augment the cabbage with other vegetables such as thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms, julienned fresh peppers, or whatever else you might have handy.