Everything you need to know about Taiwanese cabbage!

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

Flat cabbage is another name for Taiwanese cabbage. The name pretty much tells everything about this vegetable. But it’s all about the outlook of the cabbage which makes it different from the rest; there are so many varieties of cabbage currently available in the world that you almost feel lost in a grocery store.

Flat cabbage is mostly used in Taiwanese cuisine and hence it is greatly associated with Taiwan, people also knew it as Taiwan Cabbage. Let’s just leave the tags behinds and move on to the juicy and crunchy traits of this refreshing vegetable.

I personally like cabbages for two reasons; one is that it goes great with the salads and gives a crunchy texture to the meal and secondly it does not require too much of the cooking, a sauté of 5 minutes is enough to prepare a cabbage stir-fry.

Cabbage and its varieties

There are immense varieties of cabbage, and it is almost impossible for anyone to just  grab the right one for a meal. After getting into details and learning all about cabbage, I can certainly back this claim of mine. Earlier this year, I was not even sure how many varieties of cabbage as I usually used red or green cabbage.

To me, the difference only existed in terms of colors.

But that where I was wrong. Even though I was using the other varieties of cabbage, I wasn’t sure that they are just another type of cabbage, like Bok choy. As I realized it, I started searching the facts about cabbages, and that is when I also learned about Taiwanese flat cabbage. And before I share everything about the flat cabbage, let me just discuss some of the other varieties of cabbage here, so that you would know the difference better:

Red Cabbage, the leaves are packed in a round ball which appears reddish purple in appearance. this cabbage is used to prepare coleslaw or salads. Then comes the Napa cabbage, it is also called Chinese cabbages, and it is green and white in color. Its leaves are not that tightly packed, and the overall shape of the cabbage is elongated. It tastes sweeter and softer than the green cabbage.

Savoy cabbage is the next on the list, and it looks the prettiest of all. The leaves of savoy cabbage are so full of veins, and it has lettuce-like texture. So, its leaves can be used for wraps and also for salads. Bok choy and Choy sum are yet another variety of cabbage.

To differentiate these from other varieties, just look at the assembly of the leaves in the bulb. The leaves are long and are loosely attached together through a single bulb. Stems are broad and white whereas leaves are all green. Both the types are used for stir-fries.

The Taiwanese Flat Cabbage

Let’s hit back to the topic and discuss more the flat cabbage. It is recognized through its flat and oblong shape. It seems like the ordinary green cabbage is stretched or pressed into another vegetable. It heads of the cabbage is usually large, and it is about 12 inches in diameter. Sometimes the diameter can be lesser than 12 inches.

With that diameter, the size of leaves is also quite big. There is an outer layer of dark green leaves and inside all the leaves are lighter in color with shallow veins. The taste of the flat cabbage is sweet, and it has a very delicate texture. so, whenever it is cooked, it is cooked at low temperature and in minimum time in order to keep up the texture of this cabbage.

Taiwanese cabbage is grown and distributed round the year. It is not seasonal, and you can enjoy it any time anywhere. There is no need to store them for long durations, just buy fresh and cook fresh.

This flathead cabbage is easy to spot due to its size and shape of the head. In the summer season, the heads can grow up to 6 pounds in weight. Seasons do impact the size of the head grown. So, in summers large headed flat cabbages are available, and during winters you can enjoy small headed. The taste and texture, however, remain the same.

Inside Taiwan, the cabbage is known by the name Li Sun Sweet cabbage or Li Sun cabbage. It is because of the region it is grown in, and the ‘sweet’ comes from its natural flavors. It popular for this distinct sweet taste.

How to use Flat Cabbage

The flat head cabbage grows into a large beautiful leaf full of juices and sap. The outer layer of the leaves has to be removed before the use. In grocery stores, this out outer layer is already removed so you would find them in clean light green appearance. you can prepare this cabbage in different styles, either steam the hear of boil it. that can be served with fish fillets or other vegetables.

Stir-frying cabbage can also help you to enjoy all of its flavors along with other vegetables and condiments. To make a stir-fry, the cabbage is chopped or sliced and then added to the recipe. The key is not to overcook the cabbage; else it will lose its taste, texture and essential moisture.

The fermented Kimchi of Korea is also made out of sliced flat cabbage.

There is yet another way to add flat cabbage to the meal, that is soups. Many Taiwanese soup recipes make good use of finely sliced Taiwanese cabbage. In soups, it is usually added a few minutes before the cooking is done. In this way, the texture is retained, and the flavors of the cabbage are released into the soup. You can also use it in fresh salads.

Since this cabbage is named after Taiwan and associated with the country, people mistakenly assume that it can only be grown there.

But that not entirely true.

Flat cabbage is a vegetable grown at high elevation and in cooler climates. So, any place with the same characteristics is a good place to grow flat cabbage, for example, Alaska, Canada or Northern Europe, etc.

Flat cabbage vs. green cabbage – What is the difference?

Now that we know almost everything about flat cabbage. Let’s draw its difference with the green cabbage. Since various types of green cabbage are used commonly in our meals, we should know the basic difference.

Green cabbage is rounder and more spherical in shape than the flat cabbage, and its wide fan-like leaves are packed tightly together into a ground ball, unlike its flat counterpart. the head is so compact that it always weighs heavier than it looks. Its leaves appear glossy and rubbery in texture.

The color is light yellowish green.

Like flat cabbages, it can be used in salads, stir-fries, soups or braises. The leaves of green cabbage are also used to make rolls or snack wraps. The taste of these also differs from that of flat cabbage leaves. It tastes less sweet and more peppery when it is raw. It gets sweeter with the cooking.

Sweet and Savory Taiwanese Cabbage Recipe

Though there are almost endless ways to enjoy the goodness of Taiwanese flat cabbage here is an easy and simple way to incorporate it into your routine menu. Mix vegetables, condiments, cabbage, and garlic, constitutes most of this recipe. Let’s get started then!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 1⁄2 cups cabbage, shredded coarsely
  • 1⁄2 cup grated carrot
  • 1⁄3 cup green onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Instructions

Take a nonstick skillet and melt butter in it on medium heat. Stir in garlic to sauté for 2 minutes until it starts to give off a nice fragrance. Avoid burning any of the garlic during this process.

Increase the heat from medium to high then add cabbage along with green onions, carrots, cabbage, brown sugar, and vinegar. Stir cook this mixture for about 3 minutes until It is crispy. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and sauté for a minute. Serve warm and enjoy.

Conclusion

See! Flat cabbage is a complete meal in itself and can be enjoyed in a different style of stir-fries. Through the text of this article, I tried to give a little tour to the field of cabbage where we discovered different varieties of cabbages along with the stark differences between them. Not all cabbages are same, they not only look different, but their taste and texture also vary significantly.

For each recipe, you might need a particular kind of cabbage. Flat cabbage or Taiwanese cabbages are quite commonly used in the regional cuisine, and it is always great to have a basic knowledge of the veggies before you hit to the grocery stores. The similarity between the appearance of the cabbages makes it difficult to distinguish one from the other, with this article I hoped to clear that up to some degree.

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Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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