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Charred Napa cabbage with soy-ginger dressing

Charred is a flavour that is usually associated with grilled meats, but charred vegetables and even fruit are delicious. They are often overlooked as part of a dining experience.

This is a simple recipe that brings out these charred flavours. The concept was to contrast the barely cooked cabbage leaves with charred bits. The salt from the soy and the chilli, ginger and sesame round out the flavours and pair well with the cabbage. This dish is a flavour bomb and quite unique in its taste. The dish is perfect as a side for a larger Asain spread.

The technique for charring the cabbage is quite unique and done over a flame or over coals if you have a grill. The leaves are charred on one side while the other side that you cut off is barely cooked and crunchy. This makes for an interesting texture.

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1 small Napa (Chinese) cabbage

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon ginger paste

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 green chilli, minced

1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Turn on the stove and char the cabbage top. With a very sharp knife cut a thin slice, just a few millimetres thick, off the top keeping the charred bits. Repeat the charring process on the cut surface and cut off a second very thin layer. Repeat this process till the base of the cabbage. You should have 5+ cups of charred cabbage strips. Note: you want the cabbage to be well charred as it is the primary flavouring of the dish.

Add the soy, ginger, garlic, green chilli, and sesame oil to the cabbage and toss well. Allow the mix to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a wok and add the sesame seeds. They will toast in about 20 seconds. Add the marinated cabbage and toss well. Cook for 3 minutes till the liquids are bubbling and have coated the cabbage well. Serve hot.

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