What Is Chinese Cabbage And What Does It Taste Like?

Vegetables are superfoods for several reasons. They're great for your body and offer several long-term health benefits. They're certainly versatile, lending themselves to both main courses and tantalizing sides. You can prepare a delicious salad or cook a wholesome veggie curry for a satisfying meal. And according to the Taste of Home, one of the veggies that often gets ignored compared to its peers is Chinese cabbage. This silent hero belongs to the Brassica family (along with cauliflower and Brussels sprouts) and can provide your body with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (via Healthline.) 

If you're wondering what makes Chinese cabbage stand out from its peers, it's the fact that it tastes sweeter than other types of cabbage, and also looks different. Typically, you can expect to spot green cabbage with shades of yellow when you're scouting for Chinese cabbage in your local supermarket. Also, intriguingly, Chinese cabbage reigns supreme in terms of health benefits, and is even better for you than regular varieties of cabbage.

It has a distinctive flavor

Chinese cabbage is available in several forms, such as napa cabbage — that types name probably derives from the Japanese word nappa, rather than the location in California, says The Spruce Eats. According to The Kitchn, its sweeter taste works especially well in dishes like salads. When you're out looking for Chinese cabbage, make sure that you choose carefully and stay away from picking up veggies that have wilted leaves.

The Spruce Eats reports that this vegetable is usually mild in terms of flavor — many describe it as sweeter than regular cabbage — but does acquire a stronger taste when it is cooked. The good news? It's not overwhelming at all and can easily complement other flavors in several dishes.

Also, remember that you shouldn't purchase Chinese cabbage in bulk. Why? Because it's likely to taste the best if you use it within four days. Furthermore, as illustrated by Harvest to Table, it's possible to store Chinese cabbage in your refrigerator for as long as two weeks in plastic wrapping, but its quality may not be the best. 

It's packed with nutrients

Chinese cabbage offers several health perks to those who consume it regularly. According to Healthline, Chinese cabbage is a great low-calorie option and convenient to add to your regular diet with a few tweaks. What's more, one cup only has around 22 calories, one gram of protein, and two grams of fiber. The vegetable is particularly known for being a rich source of fiber and also has high levels of vitamins C and K. Additionally, it keeps your gut health in check and aids digestion.

Plus, you may be protected against several ailments such as heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and more if you incorporate Chinese cabbage into your meals. Impressively, this superfood is said to reduce inflammation and keep you a lot healthier overall. Among the several types of Chinese cabbage, the Napa variety is particularly known for being high in vitamin B and folic acid coupled with other nutrients (via The Spruce Eats.)

You can experiment with it

If you're considering introducing Chinese cabbage into your meals, you'll be happy to know that you don't need to feel restricted to a few options. Feel free to experiment a little. According to Taste of Home, coleslaw is especially tasty when made with Chinese cabbage. Or go ahead and add the vegetable to your sandwiches to make them crunchier. A Redditor offered some great advice and wrote, "First off, anywhere you would use any other cabbage ... use it to make kimchi! Chop it up and throw it in fried rice or other stir fries."

Another home chef had a simple suggestion. They wrote, "Any kind of fermented recipe like kraut or kimchi works very nicely and it will preserve it for a long time." Another commentator mentioned that they love to use it for wholesome dishes like soups and stews. Don't be afraid to mix and match flavors a little!