Stir-fry Cabbage Outer Leaves

This is a recipe for stir-frying the outer leaves of round (Beijing) cabbage, aka the part of the cabbage which is usually already discarded by the time they are sold at the supermarkets. While the outer leaves are not poisonous to eat, they are typically discarded because they are hard and dirty. The vegetable stall I frequent always sell their Beijing cabbage with some of the outer leaves still intact. One day, I picked out the good leaves and stir fried them as an experiment. We loveeee it! After cooking it quickly in the hot wok, the cabbage has a tender crisp not unlike stir-fried kale.

See Also:

Round Cabbage at the Market
Living in Singapore has made me a ‘city pumpkin’. I am hardly able to recognize the same cabbage sold at our supermarkets when I see it with dark green leaves. I later found out that the actual cabbage still in the soil has a lot more outer leaves than this, so even the ones that made it to the market is only the tip of the iceberg (in terms of the amount of outer cabbage leaves).


Round Cabbage (Beijing Cabbage)
When the outer leaves are peeled off, the cabbage will look like the usual “Beijing” or “round” cabbage at the supermarkets, with the distinguishable pale leaves. The cabbage leaves you tear off prior to reaching this state, will be the ones used for this recipe.

Round Cabbage Outer Leaves (Discard)
The outer-most leaves often do not look good. When an outer leaf (or part of it) looks yellowed and blemished like pictured above, they should be discarded.

Round Cabbage Outer Leaves
This is the beginning of the ‘good’ leaves that I will use for my stir-fries. The outermost leaves are dark green.

Round Cabbage Outer Leaves
As the cabbage is peeled, the inner leaves are now a lighter shade but are still typically discarded at the supermarkets. So I am using a combination of these two shades of cabbage in my recipe. As you can see, the usable amount is not a lot for a small head of cabbage, but definitely sufficient for a plateful of stir-fried greens.

Round Cabbage Outer Leaves (Thinly Shredded)
Since the outer leaves are harder, I cut them to thin shreds as shown above to make them cook better in the wok.

Stir fry Cabbage Outer Leaves Recipe
The result of stir-frying the cabbage quickly in a hot wok – tender crisp cabbage. I call this the limited edition stir-fry at home :D This is frugal cooking in the kitchen!

Stir-fry Cabbage Outer Leaves Recipe

In this recipe, you will need a round (Beijing) cabbage with some dark green outer leaves still intact. In this recipe, only the outer leaves (the part usually discarded) are used, though the same recipe will work with regular cabbage leaves.

Refer to the pictures at the previous page, on how to pick out the outer leaves for this recipe.



  1. Thinly shred cabbage leaves to 1-cm widths. Wash and dry the cut cabbage.
  2. Cook cabbage and serve. Heat oil in wokpan. Stir fry garlic briskly until aromatic. Add cut cabbage, mushroom powder, seasoning sauce, water, salt & Chinese wine (along the walls of the wok). Stir-fry at high heat until the cabbage is tender crisp. Note: if your wok is not hot enough, you can add a bit more water, cover with lid and simmer for 1-2 minutes. When the stir-fry is done, drizzle sesame oil over the contents and serve.

Cooking Note(s):

* I use mushroom seasoning powder as a delicious MSG-free seasoning for all my veg stir-fries. You can substitute it with about 1/4 tsp salt.

** Seasoning sauce is a common cooking sauce which provides an umami depth without the MSG. The one I’m using is the Maggi brand, but there are many other brands out there. Substitute with other favourite pantry seasoning, such as 1/4 tsp soy sauce or fish sauce.