You have a couple of options to fry cabbage: steam-frying and stir-frying. You’re probably most familiar with stir-frying, or frying thin strips of food briefly in hot oil. Steam-frying — also known as smother-frying in the South — refers to quickly searing food in hot fat, then lowering the temperature and finishing it in the steam generated during cooking. Stir-frying retains the cabbage’s crunch, and steam-frying cooks the cabbage to toothy tenderness.

Things You'll Need


Southern-Fried Cabbage

Quarter the green cabbage and cut out the core. Pull away the thin outer layer and any discolored or blemished leaves. Slice the cabbage into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces.

Fry 1/2 pound of roughly chopped bacon for each head of cabbage over medium-high heat until crispy; use a deep, wide heavy-bottomed pan. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set it aside. Fry the cabbage in vegetable oil as an alternative to bacon fat, if desired.

Add the cabbage to the hot bacon fat and fry it until slightly browned, about 3 minutes. Season the cabbage with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper; set the heat to medium-low.

Cover the pan and cook the cabbage until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir the chopped bacon into the cabbage and cook an additional minute. Serve the cabbage hot and steaming.


Stir-Fried Cabbage

Quarter the green cabbage and cut out the core. Any cabbage works here — Savoy, bok choy, Napa or red. Or a mix of two or three varieties respond well to stir-frying. Peel away any limp or discolored leaves and slice the healthy remaining leaves into shreds 1/4 inch wide or less; set the cabbage aside.

Saute thinly sliced aromatic vegetables in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok or saute pan over medium-high heat until fragrant. Garlic, scallions, thinly sliced peppers and ginger — a classic Asian combination — add personality and zing to cabbage, but you can use any flavoring ingredients you like.

Add the cabbage and saute it until it starts to wilt, about 2 minutes; stir the cabbage frequently. Season the cabbage with salt or soy sauce; add a touch of vinegar for acidity, if desired.

Continue sauteing the cabbage until it’s wilted but still firm to the bite, about 2 minutes. Stir everything a final time and serve immediately.


Tips

  • Add cabbage in the last 3 or 4 minutes of cooking when incorporating it in a stir fry in progress.