Quick Pickled Napa Cabbage
Quick Pickled Napa Cabbage is a quick and easy way to add flavor to your meal! Known in Japan as Hakusai No Supi-do Zuke, Napa Cabbage is quick-pickled with carrot and daikon, and rounded out with shiitake mushroom and usuage (tofu pouch). This recipe is from Japan: The Vegetarian Cookbook, by Nancy Singleton Hachisu.
Quick Pickled Napa Cabbage is a quick and easy way to add flavor to your meal! Known in Japan as Hakusai No Supi-do Zuke, Napa Cabbage is quick pickled with carrot and daikon, and rounded out with shiitake mushroom and usuage (tofu pouch). This recipe is from Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s book, Japan: The Vegetarian Cookbook.
Do you remember growing seedlings in science class when you were a child? Perhaps some lima beans started from seed or potatoes from a quartered spud? This memory came to mind recently, and reminded me of my recent podcast episode with Nancy Singleton Hachisu.
I was happy to welcome Nancy to the podcast to discuss her newly released cookbook. Japan: The Vegetarian Cookbook (affiliate link) is a follow-up to the global best seller, Japan The Cookbook, showcasing the beauty of Japanese vegetarian dishes.
We also chatted about the experience of being in tune with vegetables – how growing and handling your produce can genuinely influence how you cook with them. And this reminded me that for many, those childhood science experiments might be the only experience some people may have.
The good news is that even if we don’t grow our own food, we can still learn to appreciate the simplicity behind preparing vegetables; a trip to the farmers market may help, but perhaps simply cooking with intention can help. Nancy’s book guides us in this Japanese philosophy, and I was excited to put it into practice with her recipe for a very simple, quick-pickled Napa cabbage.
How to Make Quick Pickled Napa Cabbage (Hakusai No Supi-do Zuke)
Pickled Napa Cabbage is a delicious and convenient way to incorporate napa cabbage with seasonal root vegetables. This easy and versatile dish can be served as a side salad or pickle and can easily be integrated into other recipes.
This recipe uses the Napa cabbage as the base and then incorporates other seasonal veggies like carrots and daikon — making it a great way to use unused veggie scraps! Nancy includes shiitake mushrooms and usuage for a modern approach to this dish, which adds extra texture and dimension. They can also be left out for a more straightforward, traditional approach.
How to Make Quick Pickled Napa Cabbage
- Prepare the veggies
Cut the cabbage leaves length-wise into small strips, about 2 inches wide. Stack the strips and julienne until everything is about ¼ inch thick. Gently massage the cabbage with 1⁄4 teaspoon of flaky salt and let sit for 10 minutes.
Julienne the carrot and daikon to the same size as the cabbage, then place into two separate bowls. Massage 1⁄8 teaspoon of the flaky salt into each bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, squeeze as much liquid as you can from all of the vegetables. Combine and lightly toss everything together in a medium bowl until everything is evenly distributed.
- Heat the Usuage (Tofu Pouch)
Heat a small dry frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the usuage and sear each side until slightly brown. This will take about one minute per side. Remove from the pan, halve it lengthwise, and cut it crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips.
Add it to the bowl of vegetables.
- Prepare the Shiitake
Take a dried shiitake and soak it in boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain the shiitake and gently squeeze off excess water. Cut off the stem. Finely slice the cap and add it to the bowl of vegetables.
- Prepare the dressing
In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, mirin, fine salt, shoyu, chile, and oil over medium heat until steam rises from the pan and small bubbles form around the perimeter. This should take about 5 minutes.
Once it is hot, pour the dressing over all the vegetables and toss it well to combine.
Now it’s ready to serve! If you prefer it spicy, add some heat by sprinkling some shichimi togarashi.
Listen to the Podcast with Nancy Singleton Hachisu
For more Japanese vegetarian recipes, check out my interview with Nancy Singleton Hachisu in Episode 68 of the Kitchen Confidante Podcast!
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Disclosure: I was sent a copy of Japan: The Vegetarian Cookbook to review for the Kitchen Confidante Podcast Episode 68 with Nancy Singleton Hachisu. All opinions are, of course, my own. The post may have affiliate links; see my Disclosure page to learn more.
Quick Pickled Napa Cabbage (Hakusai No Supi-do Zuke)
- 4 large (9 oz/250 g) napa cabbage (Chinese leaf)
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt divided
- 2 inches (5 cm) small carrot (1 3/4 oz/50 g), peeled or scrubbed
- 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) small daikon (2 2/3 oz/75 g), peeled or scrubbed
- 1 deep-fried tofu pouch (usuage)
- 1 dried shiitake soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar (2 1/2 fl oz/75 ml)
- 1/4 cup hon mirin 1 3/4 fl oz/50 ml)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon shoyu (soy sauce)
- 1 small dried red japones chile finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons lightly roasted gold sesame oil or 1 teaspoon each dark roasted and unroasted sesame oil
- 7-spice powder (shichimi togarashi) for serving, optional
- Cut the cabbage leaves length-wise into strips 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Stack the pieces and slice into 1/4-inch (5 mm) julienne. Massage 1/4 teaspoon of the flaky salt in gently and leave for 10 minutes.
- Julienne the carrot and daikon and pace in two separate bowls. Massage 1/8 teaspoon of the flaky salt into the carrot and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon flaky salt into the daikon and leave for 10 minutes.
- Squeeze as much liquid as you can from all of the vegetables, and drop into a medium bowl together. Toss lightly to distribute evenly.
- Heat a small dry frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the usuage and sear for about 1 minute on each side to brown lightly. Halve lengthwise and cut crosswise into strips 1/4-inch (5 mm) wide. Drop into the bowl of vegetables.
- Drain the shiitake and squeeze gently. Cut off the stem and discard or recycle for dashi. Finely slice the cap and add to the bowl of vegetables.
- In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar, mirin, fine salt, shoyu, chile, and oil over medium heat until steam rises from the pan and small bubbles form around the perimeter, about 5 minutes. Pour the dressing over all the ingredients in the medium bowl and toss well.
- Serve in individual small dishes as a pickle or small salad course. And if anyone desires more heat, sprinkle with shichimi togarashi.