Napa or nappa cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis or Brassica rapa Pekinensis Group) is a type of Chinese cabbage originating near the Beijing region of China, and is widely used in East Asian cuisine.
In Australia it is referred to as “wombok”. Since the 20th century, it has also become a widespread crop in Europe and the Americas. In much of the world, this is the vegetable referred to as “Chinese cabbage”.
Outside of Asia, this vegetable is also referred to as Chinese cabbage. Regionally, it is also known as sui choy (from the Cantonese name, 紹菜), and celery cabbage. In the United Kingdom this vegetable is known as Chinese leaf, in New Zealand as wong bok or won bok, and in the Philippines as wombok or pechay baguio. Another name used in English is petsai or pe-tsai. In Russia it’s called pekinskaya kapusta (пекинская капуста), literally “Peking cabbage”.
Using Wombok in Cooking
Napa cabbage is widely used in China, Japan, and Korea. Napa cabbage is used as a sign of prosperity in China, and often appears as a symbol in glass and porcelain figures. The Jadeite Cabbage sculpture of Taiwan’s National Palace Museum is a carving of a napa cabbage variety. It is also found in North American, European and Australian cities after Asian immigrants settled in the regions.
In Korean cuisine, napa cabbage is the main ingredient of baechu-kimchi, the most common type of kimchi, but is also eaten raw as a wrap for pork or oysters, dipped in gochujang. The outer, tougher leaves are used in soups. It can be used in stir-fry with other ingredients such as tofu, mushroom and zucchini. It is also eaten with hot pot meals. Napa cabbage is particularly popular in South Korea’s northern Gangwon Province. In the European, American and Australian kitchen it is more common to eat it cooked or raw as salad.
The vegetable is rich in Vitamin C (26 mg/100g) and has a fair amount of calcium (40 mg/100g). It tastes mildly aromatic.