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Chinese cabbage with lime and ginger

A summer salad is supposed to keep you cool and refresh you. It should also be easy to make, preferably without cooking time over a stove. These salads are fresh, loaded with greens and cabbages, have light dressings instead of creamy ones, and are loaded with bright flavours. This is one of those salads.

Chinese cabbage, also called Napa cabbage, was initially grown in the Yangtze River Delta in the 14th century. They became popular because of their medicinal qualities. Most Chinese cabbage farming shifted to Northern China, making it easy to obtain. This was then shipped back to the south and all the way down to Korea. In China, it is also pickled into suan cai, Chinese sauerkraut and has become the basis of Korean kimchi.

This is a lovely salad, crisp from the cabbage. The flavours are intense, tart from the lime juice and vinegar and spicy from the ginger and chillies. It hydrates and refreshes during the hot summer months. If desired, you can add additional vegetables to the salad, such as cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, or other desired vegetables.

Deborah Madison was one of the first chefs to embrace the farm-to-table movement when she opened her restaurant Greens, which I have dined at a few times. Her cookbooks are lovely, and this one, in particular, is amazing. It has simple recipes that are loaded with flavour. Like me, you should get all her cookbooks; each is a masterpiece!

For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.


1 small head of Chinese (Napa) cabbage

1-2 jalapeño or green chillies, or to taste

3-4 scallions or shallots, sliced

3-4 tablespoons cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon

1teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

2-3 tablespoons peanut or olive oil

Salt, to taste

Cut the cabbage tail off and slice into 6 pieces longitudinally. Cut each piece into thin ribbons. Add to a large bowl.

Add all the rest of the ingredients and toss well. Taste for spice and salt.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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