Simmered Napa Cabbage with Fried Tofu

This recipe is a prime example of Japanese osouzai, or everyday food – simple and yummy. The fried tofu (aburaage)  and napa cabbage (hakusai) soak up the dashi for a beautifully soft and juicy texture. A great side dish for the cold winter months!

  2  people
Ready In min (Prep   + Cook 

As with some other leafy layer vegetables, there is a taste and texture hierarchy among napa cabbage leaves, starting from the somewhat tougher outer green leaves, good for stir fry, and slightly sweetening and softening the closer you get to the centre leaves, which make a lovely addition to miso soup. You can use any part of the cabbage for this recipe, but remember to separate the white ribs (which you cook first) from the green leafy part (which you add later). And here’s a handy cooking tip: cutting the thick white ribs on an angle results in a melty softness, and also helps it absorb more of the broth.

Fried tofu is a supporting player in many Japanese dishes, such as miso soup, udon and oden. Removing the excess oil with boiling water fluffs it up, and again, helps it soak up more of that delicious dashi broth!
Fried tofu . . . 1 piece
Napa cabbage . . . 250 grams
Vegetable oil . . . 1/2 tablespoon
Dashi broth . . . 100 mL
Sugar . . . 1.5 tablespoons
Soy sauce . . . 1.5 tablespoons
Pour hot water over the fried tofu to rinse off the excess oil, then cut into 1 inch slices.
Cut the Napa cabbage lengthwise, separating the leaves from the white ribs, then cut both parts into bite-sized pieces.

Step 1

Heat a pan to medium-high and add the vegetable oil. Add the white pieces of cabbage and stir fry until slightly translucent. Then add the green leafy parts and continue to stir-fry until coated with oil.

Step 2

Add the fried tofu and simmering ingredients, and cover with a drop lid. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the cabbage softens, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 3

Serve hot, and enjoy!