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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Cooking with Chinese leaf

Napa or nappa cabbage (Brassica rapa subspecies pekinensis) goes by many names. Among other things, it’s known as celery cabbage, as Chinese leaf (in the UK) and as wombok (in Australia and the Philippines).Napa cabbage has a more delicate taste than other types of cabbage and it’s also easier to digest. Raw napa cabbage makes a delightful salad combined with apple, tomatoes, cucumber, grated carrot and fresh herbs. A yoghurt dressing is good. It’s an excellent addition to soups and stews, wrap individual leaves around portions of seafood or pork, or use it in the classic way in a stir fry. Or try an oriental coconut soup where it harmonises perfectly with shiitake mushrooms, fresh ginger and lemon grass. In Korea they make it into kimchi, a pickled cabbage dish slightly reminiscent of sauerkraut, but with the vibrant addition of garlic, ginger and chilli.

Health benefits/ how to prepare

Napa cabbage is low in calories (12 kcal per 100 g), but rich in potassium, calcium, folic acid and vitamins A and C as well as mustard oil glycosides, which are thought to have major health benefits. To prepare napa cabbage, simply discard any limp outer leaves, wash it, shake it dry, cut it in half lengthways and then crossways into thin strips. The stalk can be eaten too, except perhaps for the very end section.

Origin and appearance

Napa cabbage (Brassica rapa L. ssp. pekinensis) comes originally from China, probably from the region around Beijing. In the last century it found its way via America to Europe. It is thought to be related to pak choi and probably has a turnip among its forbears. The outer leaves can vary in colour from yellowish to green.

Buying and storing

Look for a tight head of cabbage where the leaves look fresh and the cut end of the stalk is not too dry. Napa cabbage will keep in your fridge for several days wrapped in a damp cloth or clingfilm.

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de