Napa cabbage is a densely packed, large and elongated head, averaging 25-50 centimeters in length and 15-20 centimeters in width, with an oval to oblong shape. The bright white stems are thick, lightly grooved, and smooth, tightly clustered at the base forming basal rosettes. Attached to the fibrous stems are crinkled, delicate, and curved leaves that range in color from pale green to yellow and are covered in white veins that extend across the surface. Napa cabbage is crisp and aqueous with a subtly sweet, mild flavor.
Napa cabbage is an excellent source of calcium, vitamins C and K, and antioxidants, which can help boost immunity within the body and help repair cell damage. It also contains magnesium, vitamin B, fiber, and folic acid.
Napa cabbage is best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as braising, stewing, grilling, stir-frying, and boiling. Traditionally used in Asian cuisine, Napa cabbage can be shredded into slaws or green salads, or it can be stuffed into dumplings, fresh spring rolls, and steamed buns. The leaves can also be simmered in hot pot or other soups, cooked into curries, or lightly stir-fried with other vegetables and mixed into noodle and rice dishes. In addition to cooked preparations, Napa cabbage is popularly fermented and used to make kimchi. Outside of Asian cuisine, Napa cabbage is also being used in sandwiches, as a lettuce wrap, in salads, or as a creamed side dish. Napa cabbage pairs well with potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, cucumber, celery, parsnips, meats such as white fish, pork, poultry, and duck, grapefruit, oranges, and pistachios. The leaves will keep 1-2 weeks when wrapped in plastic and stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.