My Chinese Cabbage and Apple Salad is a refreshing salad. The slightly sour and sweet apple goes so well with the crunchy Chinese cabbage. The wasabi-flavoured light dressing makes this salad authentic and unique.
You can eat Chinese cabbage leaves raw. The stalks are crunchy and the flavour is neutral with a hint of sweetness, particularly in winter. That’s the reason why it goes so well with sliced apple.
Chinese Cabbage, Nappa Cabbage and Wombok
These words all point to the same vegetable. In Australia, we don’t call it nappa cabbage. It is called Chinese cabbage mostly but sometimes it is also called wombok.
This vegetable originated from China and so it is given the obvious name, I presume. I thought it was quite interesting that this vegetable is also called nappa cabbage because ‘nappa’ (菜っ葉) is a Japanese word that means leaves of vegetables. In Japan, the word nappa is used as a generic term for leafy vegetables.
The Chinese cabbage has a different name with a Japanese word that means something different? So confusing!
Regardless of what you call it, Chinese cabbage is a versatile vegetable. It’s great for:
- Stir-fry – Happosai (Combination Stir-fry) and Chinese Cabbage Stir-fry with Pork
- Hot pot – Shabu-shabu Hot Pot and Yosenabe
- Simmering dish – Hakata-style Simmered Cabbage
- Pickles – Simple Kimchi Recipe
- Salad like today’s recipe
- Soup – as an ingredient to go in miso soup
Chinese cabbage is a winter vegetable and the flavour is at its best in winter. But in Australia, it is available almost all year round. This salad is probably the simplest Chinese cabbage recipe – you can make it all year round in 10 minutes.
How to Make Chinese Cabbage and Apple Salad
You only need Chinese cabbage and apple. In my recipe, I scattered little green leaves to garnish and add a colour to the salad but you don’t need to do that. Below are the main steps to make this salad.
- Shred Chinese cabbage leaves
- Wilt the cabbage with salt, then squeeze water out
- Slice red apple
- Mix and dress in Wasabi Salad Dressing (see the next section)
Chinese cabbage should be shredded crosswise. If the width of the stalk (white part) of the Chinese cabbage leaves are more than 6-7cm / 2½” wide, halve the leaves vertically before shredding.
I recommend an apple with tangy flavour that is not too sweet. I used a Kanzi apple. Jazz is another variety that is good for this salad. If Jonathan is in season, I would use Jonathan because it is my favourite. But if you have a sweet tooth, you can use sweeter apple such as Pink Lady and Gala.
Quarter the apple, remove the core, then slice it crosswise to make a fan-shape. You could make thick match sticks instead, but given that the Chinese cabbage is shredded, I think the different shaped apple slices make the salad more interesting.
Dressing for Chinese Cabbage and Apple Salad
You will find Chinese Cabbage and Apple Salad recipes on the web with the same recipe name as mine. But the big difference between them and my salad is the unique salad dressing – Wasabi Salad Dressing.
I posted Wasabi Dressing and Watercress Salad quite some time ago. The Wasabi Dressing that I used in this recipe is flavoured with soy sauce and wasabi. But today’s dressing does not use soy sauce.
Wasabi Salad Dressing is similar to French dressing but there are a few differences.
- Add wasabi to the dressing instead of Dijon mustard
- Use less oil and more vinegar
- Add a small amount of sugar
To make Wasabi Salad Dressing, simply add the following ingredients to a jar with a lid, then shake it.
- 3 parts rice wine vinegar
- 2 parts vegetable oil
- ½ part sugar
- ⅓ part wasabi paste
The colour of the dressing is slightly greenish from the wasabi. When you eat the salad dressed in this Wasabi Salad Dressing, you will experience a small kick from the wasabi. And it’s addictive!
I made wasabi paste from wasabi powder in a tin today because I ran out of wasabi in a tube. It had a very strong kick. If you are using wasabi paste in a plastic tube, the sharpness of the wasabi might be different.
Add a smaller quantity of wasabi to start with and taste it to see if you need more. People have different tolerances to the wasabi kick, and you may or may not need to add more wasabi to the dressing.
I hope you try this simple dish – Chinese Cabbage and Apple Salad with Wasabi Salad Dressing.
My Chinese Cabbage and Apple Salad is a refreshing salad. The slightly sour and sweet apple goes so well with the crunchy Chinese cabbage. The wasabi-flavoured, light dressing makes this salad so unique.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 300g / 0.7lb Chinese cabbage (note 1)
- 1 small apple (note 2)
- 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp wasabi paste (note 3)
- Small green salad leaves (note 4)
If the stalk (white part) of the cabbage leaves are very wide, halve them vertically. Shred the leaves crosswise and put them in a bowl.
Sprinkle two pinches of salt over the cabbage, mix and leave for 5 minutes to wilt the cabbage.
While wilting the cabbage, add all the Wasabi SaladDressing ingredients to a jar (note 5), put the lid on and shake well until the sugar is dissolved and there are no wasabi lumps.
Quarter the apple vertically and remove the core. Then slice the apple thinly (about 3mm / ⅛" thick), perpendicular to the first cut so that every apple piece has a band of red skin.
Squeeze the water out of the cabbage as much as possible and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Put the apple pieces with the cabbage and mix, ensuring that the apple pieces are scattered evenly.
Pour the Wasabi Salad Dressing over and mix well ensuring that salad pieces are well coated in the dressing.
Transfer the salad to a large bowl to share or individual bowls. Scatter green leaves (if using) to decorate.
1. I used about a quarter of the whole Chinese cabbage which was not very large.
2. I used a Kanzi apple today. Crisp apples with a balanced sweet and sour flavour such as Jazz and Jonathan are best suited to this sald.
The weight of my apple was about 160g / 5.6oz. After removing the core, it weighed 130g / 4.6oz.
3. I made wasabi paste from wasabi powder. It had a very strong kick when freshly made. If you are using wasabi paste in a tube, you may need to adjust the quantity as the heat varies.
4. I picked some baby beet greens from the bag of mixed green salad that I had. I could have used mizuna leaves or other small green leaves instead. Rocket greens/arugula are not suited for this salad as they have a strong flavour.
5. If you are unsure of how much kick you can tolerate, you may start with smaller quantity of the wasabi in the dressing. Taste test, then adjust to your liking.
6. Nutrition per serving, assuming dressing is all consumed.
serving: 267g calories: 204kcal fat: 14g (22%) saturated fat: 1.1g (6%) trans fat: 0.3g polyunsaturated fat: 9.2g monounsaturated fat: 3.3g cholesterol: 0mg (0%) sodium: 210mg (9%) potassium: 464mg (13%) carbohydrates: 18g (6%) dietary fibre: 3.5g (14%) sugar: 13g protein: 2.5g vitamin a: 135% vitamin c: 118% calcium: 13% iron: 7.3%