Chinese cabbage is like a romaine lettuce, with crisp, crunchy leaves that can be eaten either raw or cooked. It is also a conventional name under which to group several other oriental greens such as bok choy.
Chinese cabbage has been developed over centuries, particularly in China, since it was first recorded in the 5th century. It finally reached America by the end of the 19th century but had to wait until the 90s before it arrived in Europe.
The original Chinese cabbages were loose headed. The varieties we grow today are mainly hard headed and raised in Japan. They are tightly packed with dense leaves, which are a pale creamy-yellow and sweet tasting. They last well if kept cool, and one seems to provide an endless helping of salad leaf. It can also be cooked, but its delicate flavor can (and will) be lost or overpowered by stronger flavors if the chef/cook is not careful.
Bok choy is a common variety of Chinese cabbage, and looks more like a small Swiss chard, with dark green leaves and wide white stems. Bok choy has more flavor than the Chinese cabbage, and it can also be eaten raw or cooked.
Mizuna, another variety, is making its way into the culinary scene. It originated in Japan. Unlike other greens, Mizuna has feathery leaves which makes them useful for garnish and decoration as weel as procution. The leaves can also be eaten raw or cooked.
Nutritional highlights …
If you’re seeking a vegetable high in nutrients and absent or low in all of the bad stuff — fat, sodium and sugars, this is your Cabbage.
A 1 cup serving contains a meager 10 calories, according to Produce for Better Health Foundation data. It contains no saturated or trans fats or cholesterol. It gives you 1 gram of protein and 2 grams of total carbohydrates, one of which comes from dietary fiber and the other from sugars. It is high in vitamin A and vitamin C. The Centers for Science in the Public Interest rates ir among other vegetable “superstars,” partly due to the vegetable’s rich vitamin K and beta-carotene content.
When selecting from the market, look for firm stalks without any brown discoloration. Make sure the leaves are crisp and not wilted. It will hold in your refrigerator for about a week