Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wâa-wâa-choi w/ Pork or w/ Mushrooms Stir-Fry

Here is the kind of cruciferous or cabbage vegetable I recently found at my favourite seller in Mongkok. Its name is wâa-wâa-choi 娃娃菜 which literally means “doll vegetable”.


This is the 2 lbs wâa-wâa-choi I bought!

The wâa-wâa-choi which looks like a bouquet of flowers or a head with lots of individual kind of small head cabbages is produced in Taiwan. It is in season right now with other vegetables belonging to the same mustard family including Chinese white cabbage or bok-choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, turnip, etc.
I knew that the baby size of the Chinese cabbage  also known as celery cabbage or Napa cabbage - in Cantonese wòhng-ngàh-baahk 黄牙白, was named wâa-wâa-choi 娃娃菜 but never heard of another vegetable with the same name and a different look.

Napa cabbage - Celery cabbage - Chinese cabbage
Here are the dishes I made with the wâa-wâa-choi:

Wâa-wâa-choi and pork
Wâa-wâa-choi and mushrooms
Wâa-wâa-choi and Pork Stir-Fry:

  • 200g pork, sliced
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • ½ head (~1 lb) doll vegetable – wâa-wâa-choi - sliced (not too thin)
  • 2 slices of ginger, crushed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 sprig of spring onion

1 tsp light soya sauce
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp rice wine
1 tbsp oyster sauce
½ cup water

1 tsp of tapioca starch
1 tsp water
½ tsp salt

  1. Toss the sliced pork in marinade ingredients and set aside in fridge for about ½ hour.
  2. Wash and peel any tough fibrous stalk. Pull out any damaged leaves.
  3. Cut off the small florets and cut into 2-3 pieces. Slice the stalk (centre part).
  4. In a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, heat canola oil; add pork, brown well on all sides. Remove from wok and set aside.
  5. In same skillet - add oil if necessary - add ginger and garlic to stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add the sliced doll vegetable and seasoning.
  7. Stir-fry for two minutes; add pork and cook until tender but crisp.
  8. Transfer to a serving dish.
  9. Add freshly ground black pepper and garnish with spring onion on top.

The doll vegetable is milder than Brussels sprouts in taste and has the same texture to that of a broccoli stem or a kohlrabi gaai-làahn-tàuh 芥蘭頭.

The problem (if I call this a problem) is that when you prepare meals for a small family a whole cabbage is too much for one dish and you don’t want to eat the same thing 2 days in a row.

The wâa-wâa-choi I bought weighed only 2 lbs but I only needed one half to make the above stir-fry.  I wrapped the other half in newspapers and stored it in the fridge to sauté it with onion and fresh mushrooms a few days later.  
And for the 2nd dish I paid attention not to overcook the wâa-wâa-choi as it tastes better crispy (and looks better too).

Wâa-wâa-choi and mushrooms stir-fry

Wâa-wâa-choi stir-fries: light, easy, and healthy! Bon appétit!


  1. Of course I have never heard of this cruciferous vegetable, but I like all of its cousins:) I have two Asian markets near by, and I am going to try to find this (I am a stubborn and persistent person and you have made me more than curious:)
    I just wonder how it tastes - more like cabbage, or bok choi? But I love them both so who cares?
    I love meeting fellow ex-pats:) See you on Twitter!

    1. Hi Lana, it tastes more like cabbage or the stem of broccoli. Hope you find it. I am sure you and your family will like it! see you on Twitter.