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Vegetables > Steam-fried Cabbage 8 June 2006

Posted by cath in Recipes, stir-fry, variations, vegetables.

stir-fry cabbage

Cabbage steam-fried with herbs and balsamic vinegar

I often find it difficult to find interesting recipes for vegetables. Cabbage is always a hard one. It’s often best simply steamed or wilted, but some more substantial cabbage varieties, particularly red cabbage and dark green cabbages, are really good stir-fried with steam, what I call: steam-fried. Steam frying can be done simply by shredding cabbage, followed by a quick stir-fry in a tablespoon of oil, then the addition of up to a glass of water, usually in one or two splashes.

This method is quick and easy, depending only on how much cooking the cabbage needs. Once you’ve added the water to the hot stir-fry, put the lid on for 5-10 minutes with the heat turned down to medium. The steam wilts the cabbage, the oil or butter gives it a glaze. Test a bit to see if it’s done. If not, add some extra water as required and put the lid back on for a few minutes more.

To make cabbage a bit more interesting, you can add herbs to the steam-fry. In this recipe I’ve used thyme, lemon thyme and chives along with a wee sliver of garlic in the oil. I’ve also finished the glaze with a splash of balsamic vinegar, which gives a slightly sweet edge and I think works nicely with cabbage. I also slipped in some nutty walnut oil – just a splash as I like that flavour in cabbage too.




1 cabbage

freshly cut herbs, i.e. thyme, rosemary

1 clove garlic

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 glass cold water

1 tablespoon olive oil

small lump of butter

(optional, some walnut oil)

Some chives (chopped) and lemon thyme (removed from stalk) to sprinkle on top

Salt and pepper




  1. Shred the cabbage into strips, not too fine, removing any tough stalks (you can also cook the stalks in the same way – I love eating them, but others are not so keen!)
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a wok or large-based pan (make sure you have a lid)
  3. Add sliced garlic to the hot oil and quickly swish round the pan. Add any thicker herbs (rosemary, thyme) to flavour the oil a bit.
  4. Now add the shredded cabbage and stir-fry for 2 minutes, coating the cabbage with oil. Season with a little sea salt.
  5. Now add some water, making sure it starts to bubble. Half a glass is usually sufficient at this point. Put the lid on, lower the heat slightly, and cook for 5-10 minutes, shaking occasionally. The longer you cook the cabbage, the more likely you will need to add some extra water. Take the lid off and check inside for steam, add water and stir again if necessary, then replace the lid.
  6. Once the cabbage has wilted, remove the lid, make sure that you dry the cabbage by steaming off any excess liquid in the pan. To give the cabbage it’s final glaze, add the balsamic vinegar and stir through.
  7. Turn off the heat.
  8. Sprinkle the top with the extra herbs, some freshly milled black pepper and stir to combine.

A great accompaniment to many meals, Vegetarian-friendly. Try it with cauliflower and macaroni cheese…recipe coming soon…


Walnuts added to cabbage make a great combination, similarly with brussel sprouts.

You can add any herbs you like to this dish. Meaty cabbage: Try steam-frying the shredded cabbage by first rendering the fat from some bacon or pancetta. Remove the fried bacon and any excess oil. Add the cabbage to the bacon fat in the pan, stir-fry and then add the liquid and steam for 5-10 minutes (less for sliced brussel sprouts) and then take the lid off and steam off the excess liquid. Now stir-fry some chopped walnuts into the cabbage and add the chopped crispy bacon back to the dish. I love making this with brussel sprouts and people certainly seem to enjoy it.


1. Jason - 4 June 2007

This looks good, I’m going to give this a go tonight.


2. ChovyChap - 15 July 2008

I love to ravage a cabbage and your recipe looks like a great way of doing that. Hmmmn… What if I drop in an anchovy too?

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