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Chinese Spicy Pickled Napa Cabbage

Updated February 23, 2016
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This image courtesy of Mark T. Shapiro

This is a famous pickle from northern China. The spiced Napa cabbage is soured naturally at room temperature; it will continue to sour slowly in the refrigerator and is best eaten within a few days.

Szechuan peppercorns are essential for this recipe; they are available at all Chinese (and some Asian) grocers or, occasionally, in the spice sections of supermarkets.

Serves12 as an accompaniment

Cooking Methodpickling

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timea day or more

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Courseside dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, low calorie, low carb, low cholesterol, low saturated fat, low-fat, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturegarlicky, hot & spicy, savory, sharp

Type of Dishvegetable

Ingredients

  • 1 medium Napa cabbage, about 2 lbs (1 kg)
  • 2 tbsp (25 ml) salt (preferably sea salt)
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) Szechuan peppercorns
  • 4 to 8 whole small dried red chilies
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) julienned ginger root
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (optional)

Instructions

Cut Napa cabbage into sixths, core and slice across each section into 2-inch (5 cm) wide sections; mix well with salt. Cover; set aside at room temperature for 1 day in warm weather or 2 in cooler weather (taste after 1 day to see if the cabbage has soured). Rinse lightly under cold running water; drain, squeezing out excess moisture. Set aside.

In a dry frying pan over medium heat, toast Szechuan peppercorns until fragrant and slightly darkened. Toast chilies until fragrant and slightly darker in color. Stir together cabbage, Szechuan peppercorns, chilies, ginger and garlic (if using), pressing with your hands to extract liquid from cabbage and to break up the chilies. Cover; refrigerate 1 day before serving.

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