Chinese Cabbage with Black Vinegar

On the Side is a cookbook I had no business purchasing. It’s all about side dishes, and I’m already the biggest proponent of side dishes. My favorite part of Thanksgiving are the sides. I have some turkey, but I love the sweet-tart cabbage, the garlicky sweet potato mash, and the crispy roasted Brussels sprouts.

So you don’t have to convince me that sides are important, but I bought it because I agree with the author, London-based Ed Smith.

From the author: “This book is for anyone who already realizes that the best bits of a Sunday roast are the trimmings. And for everyone else too – because you’ll see the light soon.”

Mr. Smith originally worked as a corporate lawyer, while also keeping a blog, called Rocket and Squash, to which I now subscribe. Eventually he became a chef, and worked in the food industry.

During this time he’s also been an observer, a student of food – “I’ve watched trends arrive, and some of them crash and burn; I’ve seen a million and one ways with chicken, hundreds of crumbles and nearly as many chocolate fondants. And yet, in all this time, barely a handful of side dishes. Which is madness.”

The dish I chose to make from the book is Chinese cabbage with black vinegar, which is called Chinkiang vinegar. It was an opportunity to try it, as well as Sichuan chile flakes, called Gochujaru.

Chinese Cabbage with Black Vinegar

1 Chinese cabbage
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
2 teaspoons golden caster sugar
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
4 cm fresh ginger, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
2 teaspoons dried chili flakes
1 teaspoon lightly crushed Sichuan peppercorns

Prepare all the ingredients first, as the cooking process is quick. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, then each of those halves in two again. Cut out the core from the base of each quarter, then roughly chop the lengths into 5 or 6 pieces widthways.

Mix the soy sauce, vinegar and caster sugar together in a bowl and set aside. I can see why sugar is an ingredient. Black vinegar has a delightfully deep earthy flavor.

I divided the cabbage into two bowls – one with pieces from the root end, the other bowl with the thinner pieces.

Place a large wok over a very high heat, add the oil and allow it to heat almost until it smokes.

Drop the ginger onto the hot oil and let this soften for 30 seconds before adding the chili flakes and peppercorns, then pretty much immediately start to add the pieces of cabbage cut from the root end.

Stir fry for 30 seconds, before adding the softer top part of the cabbage. Cook for 45 seconds more, stirring occasionally, before pushing the cabbage to one side and pouring the soy sauce mixture in.

Quickly move the cabbage around for 20-30 seconds, then remove from the heat so that the cabbage takes on the flavors of vinegar and soy but retains its bite.

Serve immediately.

I served the cabbage alongside noodles topped with sesame seeds.

This cabbage is fabulous. The only different thing I would do is to use a grinder on the peppercorns.

The cabbage would be a great side to meatballs, tofu, shrimp, or beef. The next day I cooked a filet of salmon and it was a wonderful meal!

I’m almost through with this large bottle of black vinegar. It’s so good in marinades!


About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Chef Bill, Suppertime Blues September 21, 2018 at 6:14 AM - Reply

    Looks wonderful, Mimi. I love Ed’s work at R&S. Seems like a lot of dishes can be either main or side. Changing times.

    • chef mimi September 21, 2018 at 7:19 AM - Reply

      You’re so right! Funny, I’d never heard of him before this book…

  2. canelakitchen September 21, 2018 at 6:28 PM - Reply

    sounds really good and the food looks delicious !

    • chef mimi September 21, 2018 at 6:53 PM - Reply

      Thank you Gloria!

  3. Debra Eliotseats September 23, 2018 at 10:18 AM - Reply

    I am totally with you and Smith regarding the best part of the meal! With the noodles, I would eat this as my entree.

    • chef mimi September 23, 2018 at 2:26 PM - Reply

      Definitely! I’m just not a fan of a heavy-meat meal. I was just in Utah for a week and the heaviest meat I had was trout !

  4. Eva Taylor September 23, 2018 at 3:54 PM - Reply

    As luck would have it, I have some black vinegar in my pantry! I can see how the flavours would be wonderful with the cabbage.

    • chef mimi September 23, 2018 at 4:17 PM - Reply

      Wonderful! You’ll love this dish, especially with the chile pepper flakes.

  5. Elena Bourke September 24, 2018 at 11:03 AM - Reply

    Big believer in meat being a tiny portion of the meal. This cabbage dish looks really good and I”m anxious to try it! Thanks for such detailed step by step photos and instruction.

    • chef mimi September 24, 2018 at 11:53 AM - Reply

      You’re so welcome Elena! I’m mostly meatless myself, but don’t believe in rules. In fact, I just made a lamb chop for lunch! Mostly because I was so excited that I saw it at our local grocery store!

  6. jenniferguerrero1 September 24, 2018 at 12:59 PM - Reply

    Oh nice. I’ve got the vinegar and gochugaru already so I’m all set! I may need to check this book out, too. I’m always team side dishes.

    • chef mimi September 24, 2018 at 2:20 PM - Reply

      I know, me too. Some of his are a little extreme with more unique ingredients, but I did bookmark quite a few!

  7. hummingbirdthyme September 24, 2018 at 1:40 PM - Reply

    My mouth is watering! I can’t wait to try this, I’ve never tried black vinegar, but have all the other ingredients! Thanks for the recipe!

    • chef mimi September 24, 2018 at 2:19 PM - Reply

      It won’t look the same, but you could use rice vinegar. The black vinegar was very mild.

      • hummingbirdthyme September 24, 2018 at 9:18 PM

        Good to know. Thanks!

  8. Dawn - Girl Heart Food September 24, 2018 at 4:44 PM - Reply

    This looks delicious! Love cabbage (as does hubby) so I’m pretty confident we’d enjoy this one! Big fan of vinegar too…though, I haven’t tried black vinegar, but would love to try. Will have to look for next time I’m at the grocery :)

    • chef mimi September 24, 2018 at 4:52 PM - Reply

      It was good. It was surprisingly mild, so you could substitute but it’s always fun to try a new food, isn’t it?!!

  9. David @ Spiced September 25, 2018 at 10:42 AM - Reply

    I hear ya on the side dishes, Mimi! I still look forward to my turkey at Thanksgiving, but I always go back for more of the sides. Mmmm…not long now! :-) The cabbage dish you made here sounds delicious, and I appreciate you sharing this fun new (to me) cookbook, too!

    • chef mimi September 25, 2018 at 10:45 AM - Reply

      You are so welcome! Yes, Turkey is really good – especially if it’s cooked properly!

  10. heather (delicious not gorgeous) September 26, 2018 at 1:29 AM - Reply

    love how flavorful this cabbage sounds! i normally saute it in some garlic so this sounds like a good way to mix things up (:

    • chef mimi September 26, 2018 at 7:01 AM - Reply

      Well that’s good, too! I usually make red cabbage with plum jelly of some sort and some times a few dried cranberries for the holidays, but that’s it!

  11. Fran @ G'day Souffle' September 26, 2018 at 6:46 AM - Reply

    I know what you mean about the ‘sides’- we tend to overlook them for the more ‘glamorous’ mains and desserts. I tend to overlook cabbage, but your dish looks like a real winner!

    • chef mimi September 26, 2018 at 7:01 AM - Reply

      I do love cabbage, but tend to only make it for the holidays, although I’m the only one who eats any…

  12. kitchenriffs September 26, 2018 at 10:13 AM - Reply

    I actually have some Chinkiang vinegar in my pantry (for Hot and Sour Soup — it gives this soup its characteristic flavor). So I’m good to go for this recipe! And it’s a terrific looking dish — so full of flavor. I totally agree about the sides — my favorite part of most meals. Although in restaurants I tend to like the starters the most — will frequently have a couple of those, and skip the mains entirely (for some reason restaurant starters almost always have better flavor than many of the mains). Anyway, good post — thanks.

    • chef mimi September 26, 2018 at 10:52 AM - Reply

      That’s exactly what I do! 2 appetizers/starters/first courses. Also because of the portion of the meat entreé – not that I can’t manage eating it, but because I don’t want to!

  13. September 26, 2018 at 11:33 AM - Reply

    I just clicked on your link to and immediately saw a “wild mushroom kiev and slow tomatoes” recipe which I at once began devouring with my eyes! Wow! Thanks, I’ll be investigating that site more. And this cabbage dish looks amazing. As a big fan of side dishes and in particular cabbage (there’s plenty of it in the fields here in Scotland – being dug up soon!) it’s right up my street!

    • chef mimi September 26, 2018 at 11:35 AM - Reply

      Oh perfect! I’d never heard of this guy, but have you?

      • September 26, 2018 at 11:48 AM

        No I’d nevet heard of him before eithet. But I’m going to check him out some more!

  14. Loretta September 26, 2018 at 2:05 PM - Reply

    What an unusual side, but boy does it look like I can dig into that on my own! I’ve never heard of the author before, but he sure knows his stuff eh? The black vinegar sounds quite interesting.

    • chef mimi September 27, 2018 at 7:13 AM - Reply

      The chef’s bio is fascinating. He seems to know stuff! The black vinegar is quite unique. I’m sure it could be substituted in this recipe, but I wouldn’t. It’s worth trying.

  15. Ron September 27, 2018 at 10:43 AM - Reply

    A great wok fry and your tutorial is very good. I think Mr. Ed would be very proud that he inspired you. And as for sides, I say through away the turkey at Thanksgiving and give me the sides.

    • chef mimi September 27, 2018 at 4:14 PM - Reply

      Thank you! I always have a little dark meat, mostly so i can enjoy cranberry sauce…

  16. Susan@savoringtimeinthekitchen September 29, 2018 at 5:02 PM - Reply

    I”m a big fan of cabbage so this sounds wonderful to me! I agree, give me all the Thanksgiving sides and I’d be perfectly happy ;)

    • chef mimi September 29, 2018 at 7:44 PM - Reply

      Yes!!! Such wonderful colors and textures and flavors…

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