Infuse the oil with aromatics and then toss at a high heat, this adds a smoky flavor to the sweet fried cabbage to make a quick and delicious side dish.
On a Chinese dinner table, there are always a few vegetable dishes along with the main. A quick stir fry is one of the best ways to create a healthy and delicious side dish for dinner.
This 4-ingredient fried cabbage is a family recipe. My mom cooks it all the time because it requires minimum preparation and chopping but it yields a very flavorful dish. She kept telling me, right before I moved to the US, that this is the kind of recipe I need to learn. And putting green vegetables on the dinner table is one of the most important tasks, more important than cooking with meat!
So here is it, the 4-ingredient fried cabbage that only requires 3 minutes to prepare and 5 minutes to cook.
Secret ingredients for the best fried cabbage
The secret ingredients of making addictive fried cabbage are Sichuan peppercorns and dried chili peppers.
Sichuan peppercorn (花椒, Huā Jiāo) is also known as Szechuan pepper, a key ingredient in Sichuan cuisine. Sichuan peppercorn has a pungent aroma, slightly lemony overtones, and numbing properties. If you bite into one of these small peppercorns, you’ll immediately feel the tongue-tingling, buzzing, party-in-your-mouth sensation otherwise known as ‘málà’ – numbing spice. In Northern Chinese cooking, we usually use the ingredients to infuse oil or sauces, to add extra savory aroma to a dish.
Chinese dried chili peppers
Not only is it a key ingredient in authentic Sichuan food, it’s commonly used in braising and stir-frying to infuse fragrance into the oil. There are a few types of commonly used Chinese chili peppers and I highly recommend to at least have Facing Heaven Chili (medium-hot and very fragrant) in your pantry.
Use Sichuan peppercorns and dried chili pepper to infuse the hot oil with smokiness and adds a numbing spicy hint to the sweet fried cabbage. The cabbage will be seared with high heat and lightly charred, tender and meaty in texture without losing its crunchiness. Finish up with just a drizzle of soy sauce, you’d be surprised how flavorful the result is. I can finish eating half a head of cabbage in 2 minutes.
- Cut the cabbage to bite-size pieces. (See the video below my recipe to learn how I cut the cabbage)
- Fry the Sichuan peppercorns in the hot oil until turning dark.
- Scoop out the Sichuan peppercorns.
- Add the dried chili pepper and cabbage. Cook until turning tender but still crunchy.
- Drizzle with soy sauce.
That’s it! Use this quick and easy fried cabbage recipe to add nutrition to your dinner table.
More easy side dish recipes
- Cantonese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce
- Napa Cabbage Stir Fry with Vinegar Sauce
- Vegetable Lo Mein
- 4-Ingredient Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry
- Garlic Spinach in Chicken Broth
If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.
Chinese 4-Ingredient Fried Cabbage
- Heat a wok or large skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add oil and peppercorns. Stir until the peppercorns become fragrant and turn dark brown. Turn the heat right down and scoop the peppercorns out with a spatula and put aside for later. (*footnote 1).
- Turn the heat back to medium high and add the chili peppers and cabbage. Immediately stir with spatula for 30 seconds. You should hear a vibrant sizzle. Add the salt. Keep stirring until the the edges are lightly charred and the leaves turn soft, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Turn to medium low heat, drizzle soy sauce over the cabbage and stir a few times to mix everything well.
- Serve warm.
- When the Sichuan peppercorns cool down, grind them in a coffee grinder and store in an airtight container in the fridge. The peppercorn powder is very fragrant and can be used in making marinade or sauce, such as sesame noodles.