This Napa Cabbage Stir Fry Recipe with Dried Scallops is one dish I often make. Why? It's because napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, is one of the vegetables we stock in our fridge at all times.
Napa cabbage is fairly accessible and can be found in most grocery stores, even Walmart. Don't be intimidated by their size. They're quite large but they can be used in a multitude of dishes. They're also very hardy and stay fresh for a long time in the fridge.
Napa Cabbage Nutrition and Benefits
Napa cabbage is chock full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. It's believed to reduce bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure and keep the heart healthy. It also protects against several types of cancers and reduces chronic inflammation.
With only 20 calories per cup, napa cabbage is often recommended for weight management. It's so low in calories, its considered a zero calorie food. This means that your body actually burns off more calories to process and digest it than the amount of calories it contains. How awesome is that? A delicious tasting zero calorie food loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that keep me healthy? Yes, please!
The Versatility of Napa Cabbage
Napa cabbage is super versatile and super easy to cook. Not only is it good for stir fry recipes, you can finely julienne it and make a salad or a slaw. Add a bit to fried noodles for some texture and sweetness. You can pickle it or use the leaves as a wrap. Cook it in soup or hot pot to add great depth of flavor to the broth. Or use it as the "mane" in Braised Lion's Head Meatballs.
Not only is napa cabbage a versatile ingredient, it's also very forgiving. If you give it a quick stir fry, it'll have a slight crunch to it. If you cook it much longer, it'll become tender and sweeter. It can be enjoyed both ways and everywhere in between. It's hard to undercook it or overcook it.
The best part is that as napa cabbage cooks, it releases a lot of natural sweetness. It's one of the sweeter and milder tasting vegetables and goes well with a large variety of ingredients.
For this simple Napa Cabbage Stir Fry recipe, I cook it with dried scallops. If you've never tried dried scallops before, this is a great dish to start with. The briny umami-packed scallops really take this humble vegetable to another level. It's very easy to make and so delicious. The tender sweet napa cabbage stir fry sprinkled with concentrated umami bits makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
What Can I Substitute for Napa Cabbage Stir Fry?
If napa cabbage is difficult to find in your area or if you're wanting to use up some leftover vegetables in your fridge, below is a list of leafy green veggies that make good napa cabbage substitutes for this stir fry recipe:
- bok choy
- yu choy (choy sum)
- kailan (gai lan)
- snow pea leaves
- savoy cabbage
How to Cook with Dried Scallops
Prepare the dried scallops by soaking them in hot water for at least an hour. For this recipe, you'll only need one, but feel free to add more or less depending on your preference. Don't be fooled by their small size. Dried scallops pack a big punch.
The dried scallops will soften and become pliable as they're soaking in water. The longer they soak, the softer they become. You'll know they're ready when you can break them apart easily with your fingers. Give them a squeeze and they should break apart into thin shreds.
When you fry dried scallops, they may pop as the water inside makes contact with the hot oil. You can prevent this by drying them with a paper towel before cooking.
How to Cook Napa Cabbage Stir Fry with Dried Scallops
Stir fry the reconstituted scallops in oil over medium heat until they become aromatic. Add in sliced garlic. Give it a few tosses and allow the oil to draw out flavors of the garlic. Add in sliced napa cabbage and stir fry for about one minute over high heat. Stir in chicken broth, light soy sauce and Shaoxing wine and allow it to come to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it gets too dry, replenish the liquid with water a tablespoon at a time. How soft or crunchy you want the napa cabbage is up to you. Serve with a dash of white pepper.
- Prepare the dried scallop by soaking it in hot water for 1 hour. Pat dry with a paper towel and break it apart into thin shreds.
- Heat a wok or skillet over high heat and add a tablespoon of oil.
- Turn the heat down to medium and add the scallop. Stir fry until fragrant.
- Stir in the garlic and toss until aromatic. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add napa cabbage. Turn the heat to high and stir fry for about 1 minute.
- Add chicken broth, soy sauce and Shaoxing wine. Bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the texture of the napa cabbage is to your liking. Toss occasionally. If it gets too dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.
- Sprinkle with white pepper and serve.