White Cabbage Stir Fried with Sichuan Pepper

sichcabpThis dish will tickle your palate, tingle your tongue, put your mouth on fire and awaken you from the autumn lethargy. If you like bold fiery flavours, you will fall in love with this exotic cabbage transformation. It will also convince you that this vegetable is not as boring or humble as it seems.

I bookmarked this side-dish quite a long time ago and was reminded about it only last week when MJ (from MJ’s Kitchen) posted her delightful  Sausage with Cabbage and Onions. The recipe comes from the marvellous Sichuan Cookery by Fuchsia Dunlop, a wonderful book I strongly recommend to all the Chinese cuisine fans. Just like all the Ms Dunlop’s dishes I have tested, this was an amazing discovery. It takes only ten minutes (cutting included), calls for very few ingredients and is perfect served with any Asian meal. The cabbage softens slightly, but stays crunchy and, thanks to Sichuan peppercorns, dried chilli and vinegar, ends up as a complex exotic dish, particularly appreciated by hot food lovers.

If you look for other original cabbage recipes, you might like:

Korean Squid with Carrot and Cabbage
Korean Squid with Carrot and Cabbage
Okonomiyaki with Chicken
Okonomiyaki with Chicken
Okonomiyaki with Eringi Mushrooms and Bacon
Okonomiyaki with Eringi Mushrooms and Bacon

If you are interested in the Sichuan/Szechuan cuisine, I recommend these (all the recipes can be found in the above-mentioned Sichuan Cookery by Fuchsia Dunlop):

Gong Bao/Kung Pao Chicken
Gong Bao/Kung Pao Chicken
Steamed Aubergine with Chilli Sauce
Steamed Aubergine with Chilli Sauce
Mapo Dofu (Ma pou do fu, Mapo Tofu) for One
Mapo Dofu (Ma pou do fu, Mapo Tofu) for One

TIPS: Sichuan peppercorns are not related to black pepper, have a completely different taste, aroma and cannot be substituted by anything. They are sold in most Asian grocery shops and look like very dark red or brown small husks.

Black Chinkiang vinegar can be replaced with malt or balsamic vinegar, but if you have an Asian grocery shop nearby, do buy it. It has a unique taste and aroma.

Preparation: 10 minutes

Ingredients (serves two as a side-dish or four if you serve several side-dishes):

1/2 small white cabbage

1 flat teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns

5-6 dried chilli peppers, broken into pieces or whole, if you prefer


2 tablespoons black Chinkiang vinegar (can be substituted with malt vinegar or balsamic vinegar)

2 teaspoons sesame oil

Cut the cabbage into squares or slice it.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan or wok.

Fry the Sichuan peppercorns and the chillies on medium heat until they become fragrant (about 30 seconds).

Add the cabbage and stir-fry for 5 minutes.

Add the salt, stir-fry for one more minute.

At the end add the vinegar and the sesame oil.

Give the dish a last stir and serve.


36 Replies to “White Cabbage Stir Fried with Sichuan Pepper”

  1. Sissi, if anything…the cabbage may be a humble vegetable, but I love cabbage, no matter how its prepared. Raw, cooked, blended with sausage, and especially stuffed…but a nice cabbage salad with Sichuan peppers is surely gonna wake up my taste buds and so healthy and satisfyingly delicious!

    I’ve been away at my daughter’s since last Fri. doggie sitting (no access to their computer) didn’t want to bother asking them for the passcode to get on the computer. Just returned home today, and I actually enjoyed my quiet stay at their house while they took a short weekend trip!

    1. Thank you, Elisabeth. I think I couldn’t live without internet (luckily I have it on my phone, but I find it very difficult and uncomfortable to post comments or visit food blogs from my phone…).

    1. I have never heard about this peppercorn. I must check if I can buy it somewhere. Green beans sound like a great idea too.

  2. Hi Sissi! It’s been a while since I last visited your blog! Sorry about that. I just had my little girl (she’s just over 3 months now) and that kept me very busy. I quickly browsed your blog to see what I have missed. 🙂 I saw your cold bibimbap salad and chicken stir fry with bibim guksu sauce. You’ve been definitely very creative! And this cabbage dish is one of them too. I’m not familiar with sichuan pepper but I think I’m going to like it!
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Congratulations, Sue!!! I hope you are both well. I haven’t visited yours for quite a long time either, so thank you so much for coming here and most of all, thank you for all the compliments.

  3. I was confessing over at MJ’s the other day that our family eats cabbage almost every day! It is our potato/rice of choice and we also toss it into soups. I have not done very much with it on the szechuan side however so this recipe is very intriguing to me… I just picked up a nice bottle of sesame oil and have white rice vinegar but will look for the black (which I don’t think I’ve tried). This looks warming and delicious Sissi – an inviting photo too!

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. Every day??? Wow! I’m not such a cabbage fan (I think I don’t digest it very easily… in spite of spices etc.). If you ever try it (I hope you will!) do not use here white vinegar. It will be too harsh. As I have mentioned, malt or balsamic vinegar is a good substitution.

  4. First of all Darlin – thanks for the shoutout!!! That was very kind of you. I can see, that with this post you are on a mission to turn us non-cabbage lovers into cabbage lovers. 🙂 You know I can’t refuse something spicy and SO FULL of flavor of this dish! What a cabbage dish! I’m new to the Sichaun peppercorns but a believer. Season with Spice sent me some of theirs and I bit into one and what an experience! OMG! My tongue tingled and was numb for about 5 minutes and the flavor – fabulous! With those as a ingredient, along with the chillies, I can see how this cabbage dish is a true winner! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. I am glad you have enjoyed the amazing Sichuan pepper experience and I hope you will try it with cabbage or any other vegetable.

  5. Oh I love the bowl in this picture. Great photo too! I have to check out your other cabbage recipe. Okonomiyaki with Eringi and Bacon recipe in particular , I have lots of cabbage in my fridge and I love okonomiyaki.

  6. oh yes give me more of that Sichuan peppercorn! This dish reminds me of my childhood. I grew up in Sichuan and this is one of the most common way we cook cabbages (the other way being sweet and sour cabbage). Great pictures and excellent recipe! Thank you!!

    1. Thank you so much for your approval! I had no idea you grew up in Sichuan (I would be very nervous before posting it 😉 ).

  7. My only problem with cabbage is the smell while it is cooking. Other than that I simply love it and your dish looks very appetizing and as always delicious!

    1. Thank you so much, Katerina. Here you don’t have the time to smell the cabbage. I think it starts smelling when it’s really soft…

  8. Another interesting recipe. You are on fire Sissi:)
    I have most of the ingredients – I will make it in the next couple of days if I remember. The bit of cabbage in the refrigerator has been there for quite some time, but still surviving.

    1. Thank you so much, Mr. Three-Cookies. I have to warm myself up now that it’s so cold! I hope you will like the cabbage fried this way.

  9. Argh! I can’t seem to post my comment. Ok third try. Pray it’s third time lucky.

    Love this sissi. So simple but so delicious. You are right, sichuan peppercorns are so different from regular peppercorns! It amuses me when I see friends try it for the first time, that look of numbing pain on their faces- ha! Never fails to add zing to a dish, and it certainly spices up the boring old cabbage here. Completely up my alley- simple, creative, good flavours. Been away from the blogsphere for a while now and am glad to see a dish like this while I’m making my rounds again 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Shuhan (sorry you had problems with commenting). Sichuan pepper is extraordinary isn’t it?

  10. I do enjoy cabbage salads very much and yet again your description has me wishing I could just stab my fork into my monitor and taste it! Sadly that would be an expensive proposition not to mention that my Apple computer wouldn’t taste anything like your lovely cabbage salad. I am indeed a fan of bold flavours and it definitely looks like your cabbage has retained it’s lovely crunchy texture. I will be accompanying a food stylist assistant on her shopping spree soon and hope to come across some interesting pantry items in the process, and have a few new shops to put on my list! I shall definitely keep this interesting recipe in mind.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. Don’t destroy your computer 😉 I’m sure it’s possible to buy Sichuan pepper somewhere near where you live. It’s very special though, so be prepared to hate it too. I hope you will have fun with the food stylist.

  11. Yay for sichuan pepper! Such a unique spiciness that I was surprised to learn many westerners haven’t experienced before. In Chinese, it’s actually a completely different word to describe this kind of spicy. (麻辣 as opposed to just 辣)

    1. Thank you for the information. It absolutely makes sense! I wouldn’t describe Sichuan pepper as “hot” either… it’s numbing… but I know many people say it’s hot.

  12. I have these peppers in my Pantry, and we always have cabbage in my fridge (to make okonomiyaki or yakisoba :)). It’s simple to cook, and it’s nice way to use up my Chinkiang vinegar that I rarely use! 😉

    1. Thanks a lot, Nami. I’m also always glad to use this vinegar (I only have maybe three recipes calling for it!).

Comments are closed.