Folks, meet my Chinese-style three-ingredient stir-fried cabbage that delivers loads of umami courtesy of …. miso!
I know, miso is not an ingredient commonly used in Chinese kitchens. But the moment I tasted the result, I was like, why didn’t I think of that earlier??
If you make Chinese stir fries regularly, you probably rely a lot on seasoning agents like soya sauce and oyster sauce. Those of you who are more than casual cooks may also use nam yue, a type of fermented beancurd. Like belacan, it lends a funky, salty pop to dishes but can be quite overpowering, so it must be used sparingly.
Last night, I was staring at the fridge wondering what to cook. I had already planned to make my three-ingredient shallot prawns, which uses soya sauce, and I didn’t want more of the same. I also didn’t want to keep relying on commercial oyster sauce since it is loaded with sugar, salt and additives.
Since I was pairing it with a soya sauce-based dish, I thought something along the same umami-savoury profile would be complementary.
Then my eyes fell on a box of miso in the corner of my fridge. An epiphany hit me.
Miso is a type of fermented soya bean paste, but as it’s milder and less funky than nam yue, it could totally work with stir-fried cabbage
So here’s what I did. I chopped up some garlic. I then sauteed it in oil to flavour the fat that would coat the vegetables. After that, I added the cabbage and finally, the miso mixture.
My plain Jane cabbage became a freaking flavour bomb!
Why? Because the saltiness of the miso combines with the natural sweetness of the cabbage to create a deep savoury gravy. If you are hardworking, spread out the cabbage on your pan and let it sear to get some charring and caramelisation. I was too lazy to do the extra step, but my stir-fried cabbage still turned out super yummy!
Can you tell how happy I am with the results? Bonus: I got to use my miso for non-Japanese dishes – double yay!
Stir-fried Miso Cabbage
- Wok or saucepan
- 1 small cabbage head
- 1 tbs miso + water, preferably warm
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- Cooking oil
- Roughly chop garlic. Slice cabbage into shreds.
- Dissolve miso in water, up to a few tablespoons. You can't use miso paste straight from the box because it is too thick. The warmer the water is, the easier it is to dissolve.
- Heat up oil in cooking pan or wok. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, not brown.
- Add cabbage and toss. (Optional) To make it even more umami, you can spread out the cabbage and let it come into contact with the hot pan, to sear and caramelise it.
- Add miso sauce and stir to mix. Cover with a lid and let vegetables steam for a few minutes until cabbage is soft. Dish up to serve!