Napa cabbage is fairly popular in Asia. It is a common and tasty ingredient in salads, stir-fries, noodle dishes, and even certain soups.
However, can you still enjoy your favorite recipe without napa cabbage? You absolutely can!
We gathered the best substitutes for this cabbage that you can find worldwide and use the way you prefer. So, keep on reading and find which napa cabbage alternative suits your dish best!
From endives to broccoli and savoy cabbage, there are many options you have when you are looking for such an alternative.
They all taste great and have a fairly similar texture to accommodate your recipe, so let’s learn more about each substitute below!
Best Napa Cabbage Substitutes
The following substitutes could replace napa cabbage in almost all recipes. So, learn more about each alternative and decide which one is best for you.
Endives have a much richer taste than napa cabbage. However, they can make for a great substitute, especially in salads.
The best way to serve endives is raw, with salt and pepper as well as other seasonings like herbs of your choice.
You can also bake them or use them in stir-fries even if they can get a mildly bitter taste when cooked. Endives are not as easy to find in all stores and they might not be the cheapest option but they are definitely worth a try if you can get them.
Broccoli is one of the best substitutes for napa cabbage.
It is one of the most delicious vegetables as well. This vegetable is ideally cooked but you can eat it raw as well if you want to add it to your favorite salads. It is easy to cook and you can combine it with butter and garlic for an even more intense flavor.
However, note that you should not overcook your broccoli because it can turn mushy and lose its tasty flavor. A few minutes is enough for this vegetable to be perfectly fried or boiled.
3. Savoy Cabbage
Savoy cabbage might not be easily available in all parts of the world but you will be able to find it in most Asian countries.
Also known as curly cabbage or ruffled cabbage, savoy cabbage has the same size as napa cabbage. It is thicker so you will have to cook it before eating it.
Steaming the savoy cabbage or boiling it are great options to prepare this vegetable and add it to more complex dishes. The flavor, however, is fairly similar to the one of napa cabbage.
4. Red Cabbage Or Green Cabbage
Red cabbage will definitely bring some color to any dish you add it to but in terms of flavor, you will not notice much of a difference.
Just 100 grams of red cabbage will offer you all the vitamin C you need in a day as well as other nutrients that are valuable for your diet. You can use it best raw in salads or even make a salad just of red cabbage and a dressing of your choice.
5. Choy Sum
Choy sum is a Chinese cabbage that can successfully replace napa cabbage and even other types of cabbage for that matter.
It is very similar to broccoli in terms of flavor as well as in terms of cooking. You can use it in all types of dishes that call for napa cabbage.
The best way to enjoy choy sum is raw. However, adding it to your favorite stir fry would not be a mistake either as it can enrich the texture and flavor of any type of food.
Even if Kohlrabi is less popular than other options, it is no less tasty. As a matter of fact, you will most likely love this alternative as soon as you give it a try.
You can find it in green and purple colors. Therefore, if you want to add some interesting shade to your dish this is something you should consider. Kohlrabi has a sweeter flavor to it that will go great in salads and even cooked dishes.
You can add it to stir-fries or eat it raw according to your preferences.
Kale is more popular and well-known for its nutritious values.
Curly kale and baby kale are the best options if you need to substitute napa cabbage. You can eat the kale raw in salads or by itself or you can cook it just like you would cook your napa cabbage.
Kale could be pricier than cabbage in many parts of the world but it is well worth the investment.
8. Pointed Cabbage
Pointed cabbage also has a sweeter taste, however, once you cut it, it will look very similar to napa cabbage. It has thinner leaves so you will not be able to cook it for more than a couple of minutes and the best way to eat it is raw.
This substitute is rich in vitamin C and low in fat and you will digest it easily which makes it one of the best substitutes for napa cabbage. Use it like you would use your napa cabbage but keep in mind that it requires less cooking time.
9. Bok Choy
Bok choy is also a Chinese cabbage that can save your recipe if you don’t have napa cabbage. Other names for this alternative include “pok choi” and “pak choi”.
It is white in color. Thus, it will not look very different in your dish and the flavor is fairly similar as well. You will have to cut it in smaller bites to add it to salads or stir-fries but the leaves of bok choy are ideal for wraps too.
Lettuce is the cheapest and most available option. It will not work well in cooked dishes. But in terms of salads and wraps it will be just fine for replacing napa cabbage.
Lettuce comes in all types of strains as well so you will have to use what you find at your local store. Make sure you wash it well before adding it to your dish and use your hands to break it into smaller pieces rather than a knife.
Cutting lettuce with the knife will make it oxidize faster.
How Is Napa Cabbage Different From Regular Cabbage?
If you are not using cabbage a lot in your kitchen, you might not notice the differences between white cabbage and napa cabbage, but there are some to be aware of.
The shape of napa cabbage is longer and not as round as the regular cabbage, which will be the main difference you observe between these two.
Furthermore, regular cabbage has firmer, almost rubbery-like leaves compared to Chinese cabbage which comes with thinner and more fragile leaves.
The taste is not quite the same either. Regular cabbage can be a bit bitter and it becomes sweeter as you cook it but Chinese cabbage tends to be sweet even in its raw form.
Overall, you can say that napa cabbage is richer in flavor compared to regular cabbage which is why it is so popular in Asian cuisine.
What Can I Use Instead Of Napa Cabbage In Kimchi?
Kimchi is one of the traditional Asian dishes and it is made with napa cabbage. However, if you don’t have napa cabbage at hand, you can still make yummy kimchi with red or green cabbage.
Either one of these options will be not just tasty but will have the right texture to offer you great kimchi.
As tasty and widely used as napa cabbage is, we definitely recommend trying one of the substitutes on this list.
You might be surprised by the delicious taste of your dish and you will love the unique texture and sometimes even color, depending on the substitute you choose to use!