Know Your Cabbages! Green, Red, Savoy, Napa, and More

Raw green cabbage has a peppery taste, but it becomes sweeter as it cooks.

By Cookist

When many of us think of cabbage as an ingredient or side dish, it tends to be the humble green or white cabbage, or savoy at a stretch.

While these cabbages are great, they’re not the only ones on the block. We’re going to look at different kinds of cabbages, and what they taste best in.

1. Green Cabbage (White Cabbage in the UK)


The wide leaves of this cabbage are pale green with a slightly rubbery feel when raw. The outer layers should be discarded, leaving the fresh and tight cabbage head inside. Choose ones that feel heavy for their size.

Thinly-sliced green cabbage can be eaten raw, or it can be added to stir-fries, soups, and casseroles. You can also use the large whole leaves to make cabbage rolls. Raw green cabbage has a peppery taste, but it becomes sweeter as it cooks.

2. Red Cabbage


This cabbage is similar in size and shape to the green cabbage, but it has dark, reddish-purple leaves which look great in coleslaw and leafy green salad mixes. Choose heads that are tight and heavy for their size.

3. Savoy Cabbage


These cabbages are round like the green and red cabbage, but their leaves range from a deep, dark green to a luscious lighter yellow-green as you get closer to the center, and the leaves have a deeply crinkled texture.

They have a mild flavor, and the leaves are tender even when eaten raw. The heads should be compact and tight, but they will have a little give to them because of the texture of the leaves.

Savoy cabbage goes great thinly sliced in soups and stir-fries, and it makes a heavenly side dish when cooked and crispy bacon pieces are added to it.

4. Napa Cabbage


This cabbage is also known as Chinese Cabbage, and it is an oblong shape with thick, crisp stems and frilled yellow-green leaves.

Napa cabbage has a sweeter flavor than other cabbages and is great raw in salads.

5. Bok Choy


Bok choy leaves are deep green and tender, while the stems are white and crisp. The flavor is somewhat like swiss chard or baby spinach, and it’s great in stir-fries, broths, and mixed vegetable dishes.

6. Choy Sum


Choy sum is often labeled as Chinese cabbage, but it’s different to the Napa/Chinese cabbage discussed above. It looks similar to bok choy, but it’s longer and slimmer.

The leaves are tender in salads, and the stems are crisp. It also works well in noodle soups and stir-fries.

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