Hunan Hand-Torn Cabbage With Bacon & Chiles

November 22, 2022
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

"This stir-fry is about cooking the kinds of vegetables that don’t really want to be cooked properly and evenly—like cabbage. The method applies to any stir-fried vegetable that has an irregular shape, or that has something about it that defies even cooking inside of a pan. Cauliflower and broccoli are both great examples of this.

In Chinese cooking, the wok is heated to a very high temperature, meaning the vegetable only cooks for a short amount of time—a couple of minutes. In order to ensure even cooking, we usually like to blanch that vegetable before it’s stir-fried. In a traditional wok setup, you’re going to use the wok to blanch the vegetable, then you’ll take the water out, then get to the stir-frying. But in this case, if you’re at home, you might have to use a separate pot for blanching." —Lucas Sin

Lucas Sin

What You'll Need
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Hunan Hand-Torn Cabbage With Bacon & Chiles
  • 1/2 head cabbage (sometimes sold as Korean cabbage), torn into 2-inch-thick pieces
  • 1/2 piece Chinese bacon, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 scallion, cut into 1-inch-thick pieces
  • 1/4” knob ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 3 red bird’s eye chiles, sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds (or cayenne peppers)
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon pixian doubanjiang, or fava bean paste* (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken powder, or MSG
  1. Heat a large pot of salted water on high until boiling, and prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Blanch the torn cabbage pieces, cooking them for no more than 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove from the water and plunge them in the ice bath until cool. Once cooled, drain well.
  2. In the same pot of water, immerse the Chinese bacon for 30 seconds until softened (this makes the bacon easier to slice).
  3. Heat a flat-bottomed skillet or wok over high heat. Once hot, add the oil and heat until just barely smoking. Add ginger, garlic, chiles, peppercorns, and bacon. Stir-fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the fava bean paste and cook until the oil becomes red, about 30 seconds. Add the drained cabbage leaves and toss quickly to prevent the aromatics from burning. Continue to cook on high heat until the leaves barely begin to wilt. Season with light soy sauce, sugar, and msg. Remove from the heat. Taste, adjust seasoning, toss again to thoroughly combine, and serve warm.

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1 Review

Rochelle April 20, 2023
Wow! A Masterclass in cooking Chinese vegetables. Thank you Lucas!