Cabbage is a very versatile vegetable. It can be cooked or eaten raw in salads. It can be added to soups, stews or stir-fry’s. You can sauté it – which means to cook it in fry pan with a small amount of oil or butter. Or you can braise it – which means to cook it in a small amount of liquid on the stove top or in the oven. But first, you have to figure out how to cut it!
The photo below shows four of the more common varieties found here in the USA.
The Napa cabbage on the far left is also sometimes known as Chinese cabbage although, technically speaking, Chinese cabbage does have a longer, more cylindrical shape than the Napa cabbage. This cabbage looks somewhat like a head of a Romaine lettuce, with really tightly packed leaves. The two cabbages in the middle are green cabbage (on the top) and Savoy cabbage on the bottom. And finally, on the far right is a red cabbage.
Before cutting cabbage, a few words of caution:
Use a stainless steel knife:
The chemicals naturally occurring in the cabbage will react with metal other than stainless steel, and turn both the knife and the cabbage black.
Stabilize your cutting board:
It can be very dangerous if your cutting board slides around the counter while you are trying to slice something. To stop a slippery board, wet a paper towel and squeeze out the excess moisture. Spread the paper towel out on the countertop and lay your cutting board on top of it.
This will stabilize the cutting board.
To cut the Napa (Chinese cabbage), cut the bottom off and then just peel away the cabbage leaves or leave it whole and slice it into shreds.
The Green, Savoy and red cabbage are a different story. When you cut these round, heavy, firm, dense heads of cabbage, you will discover a very thick core that needs to be removed.
First remove any brown or wilted leaves on the very outside of the cabbage.
Then cut the cabbage in half, right through the stem.
This thick stem needs to get removed.
Cut the “half” in half again.
This is now 1/4 of the head of cabbage.
Place the flat side of the cabbage down and cut the core out.
Once the core removed, throw it out. It is too tough and fibrous to eat.
To shred cabbage, place the flat side of the cabbage down on the board and start making long, thin, slices into the cabbage. Be sure to keep your fingers bent when you are doing any slicing.
The core of the Savoy (shown below) and that of the green cabbage is removed the same way I demonstrated with the red cabbage.
Slicing any of the cabbages is much easier if the cabbage is crisp and cold from the refrigerator.
Green cabbage is the base for many coleslaw recipes. It is available pre-shredded at the grocery store. I used the pre-shredded for my Ramen Noodle Crunchy Coleslaw.
Cabbage Soup (shown below) is thick, hearty, full of flavor, and perfect for the beginner cook.
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