What is Napa Cabbage?Napa cabbage (Brassica rapa pekinensis) is a member of the cabbage family that originated in China several millennia ago. It is also known by the names Chinese cabbage, celery cabbage, and Peking cabbage.
Napa cabbage grows in a compact, elongated head; the crinkled oblong leaves are wrapped tightly in an upright cylinder. The leaves of this cabbage are light green, and the stalk area below the leaves is lighter still, a pale green approaching white.
The flavor of Napa cabbage is somewhat milder and a bit sweeter than that of regular green cabbage. It is delicious raw or cooked, and can be substituted for regular cabbage in most recipes.
Napa cabbage has been grown in China since around the fifteenth century. It is an extremely popular vegetable in China today, partly due to its versatility. In Korea, which has also been cultivating Napa cabbage for centuries, it is pickled, salted, and flavored with ginger and chili peppers to make kim chi, the national dish of Korea. Napa cabbage was introduced to North America from China toward the latter part of the nineteenth century. Today, it is cultivated in countries all over the world.