Sweet and Sour Cabbage

by Veggies

We enjoyed living around the corner from a public library in Memphis. It was there I found an interesting Chinese cookbook. Each recipe was given in English on one page, and in Chinese on the facing page.

When I cook this one, the family leaves the house until the chili-infused steam clears. I also disarm the smoke detector for a few minutes. Be forewarned. The aroma can take your breath. It can be painful. But it’s worth it.


2 pounds cabbage (Recipe called for red.)
6 dried red chiles
5 tablespoon peanut oil
1/2 tablespoon peppercorns
2 teaspoon salt (Feel free to reduce or to eliminate altogether.)
2 tablespoon sugar (More if you like.)
3 tablespoon soy sauce (More if you like)
2 tablespoon vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar.)
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil (More if you like)


Tear cabbage into bite size pieces about 2″ by 1 1/2″; cut leaf spines into smaller pieces. Set aside.

Clean the red chiles and cut into 1″ pieces. Remove the seeds.

In a wok, heat the oil over a very hot flame. Add the chiles and cook quickly. As soon as they turn dark, add the whole peppercorns and the cabbage, stirring briskly. Cook about 3 minutes.

When the cabbage has begun to soften, add the salt, sugar and soy sauce. Stir for one minute. Add the vinegar and the sesame oil. Mix well. Continue cooking until cabbage reaches the desired tenderness.

Chill well and serve cold. 

Note:  If you don’t have a wok handy, a large skillet (with a lid) will do. Also, whether I use a skillet or a wok, I usually reduce the heat to a mild simmer; cover with a lid; and allow to cook unattended while I work on other dishes. Also, feel free to adjust the amounts of sugar, soy sauce and vinegar to suit your family’s taste. Have fun!