Easy Bap Cai Luoc Recipe: Healthy Boiled Cabbage with Flavorful Pairings

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine diving into a dish that’s not only a staple on the Vietnamese table but also a celebration of simplicity and health. Bap cai luoc, or boiled cabbage, is a testament to the beauty of minimalism in cooking. This humble dish, with its tender leaves and sweet, subtle flavors, has a way of making simplicity shine.

It’s a versatile side that complements a variety of main courses, from rich meats to grilled seafood. Whether you’re looking to add a light touch to a hearty meal or just seeking a quick, healthy side, bap cai luoc fits the bill perfectly. Let’s explore how this straightforward dish can be a delightful addition to your culinary repertoire.


As you dive into making your own bap cai luoc, gather these simple ingredients to ensure your dish reflects the tender, sweet flavors celebrated in Vietnamese cuisine.

  • 1 large head of green cabbage: Cleaned and cut into 8 wedges
  • Water: Enough to cover the cabbage wedges in a pot
  • 1 tablespoon of salt: For seasoning the water
  • Optional: A few slices of ginger or a couple of cloves of garlic for an aromatic twist

The ingredients for this dish are minimal, further emphasizing its simplicity and healthiness. Prepare your ingredients and follow the upcoming steps to perfectly boil your cabbage.

Required Tools and Equipment

To ensure your success in preparing bap cai luoc, here’s what you’ll need in terms of tools and equipment. Each item plays a vital role in making sure the cabbage cooks evenly and retains its tender, sweet flavors.

  • Large Pot: Choose a pot that can comfortably hold a large head of cabbage and enough water to cover it. A heavy-bottomed pot is ideal for even heating.
  • Steaming Basket (Optional): While not necessary, a steaming basket can help keep the cabbage intact and make it easier to remove once it’s cooked.
  • Long-Handled Tongs or a Large Slotted Spoon: These will help you safely maneuver the hot cabbage in and out of the boiling water.
  • Colander: Needed for draining the cabbage after boiling.
  • Sharp Knife: A chef’s knife will be used to cut the cabbage into wedges or slices, depending on your preference.
  • Cutting Board: Essential for prepping your cabbage, a sturdy cutting board will keep your counters clean and scratch-free.
  • Large Bowl (Optional): If you choose to shock the cabbage in ice water after boiling to preserve its bright color, you’ll need a large bowl to hold the ice water.

Gathering these tools before you begin cooking will streamline the process and enhance your cooking experience, making it enjoyable and hassle-free. Each equipment piece aids in achieving perfectly tender and healthily cooked bap cai luoc, highlighting the cabbage’s natural sweetness and delicate texture.

Preparation Steps

Begin your culinary journey with bap cai luoc by following these detailed preparation steps to ensure your boiled cabbage turns out perfectly tender and flavorful.

Cleaning the Vegetables

First, start by thoroughly washing the cabbage to remove any dirt and pesticides. Hold the cabbage under cold running water and gently rub the leaves with your hands. If the cabbage has visible dirt or debris, you may need to peel away the outer leaves to ensure cleanliness. Additionally, wash any other vegetables you plan to include, such as carrots or onions, ensuring they’re free from impurities before you start chopping.

Cutting the Cabbage

Once your vegetables are clean, it’s time to cut the cabbage. Lay the cabbage on a stable cutting board and use a sharp knife. Cut the cabbage into quarters through the stem to maintain the leaves’ integrity. Then, slice away the hard, thick core from each quarter. Finally, chop the quarters into smaller, bite-sized pieces, ideally about 2-inch squares, to promote even cooking. Ensure your cuts are uniform to help the cabbage cook uniformly in the pot.

Cooking Instructions

Embark on the journey to master the art of cooking bap cai luoc, a delightful boiled cabbage dish that is both simple and nourishing. Follow these steps to achieve perfectly tender cabbage.

Boiling Water

Start by filling your large pot with enough water to fully submerge the cabbage quarters. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat. It’s important for the water to be boiling vigorously to ensure the cabbage cooks evenly and retains its vibrant color.

Blanching the Cabbage

Once the water is boiling, use tongs to carefully place the cabbage pieces into the pot. Allow the cabbage to cook in the boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes. Keep an eye on the clock, as overcooking can result in mushy cabbage. After the time has elapsed, use the tongs again to remove the cabbage from the hot water and immediately plunge it into a bowl of ice water if you prefer a crisper texture. This shocking process halts the cooking instantly, preserving the cabbage’s appealing texture and color. If you skip the ice bath, simply drain the cabbage in a colander and serve warm.

Serving Suggestions

Transform your simple boiled cabbage into a standout dish with these creative serving suggestions that perfectly complement its tender, subtle flavors.

Dressing and Sauces

Enhance your bap cai luoc by drizzling it with a flavorful dressing or sauce. Try a light vinaigrette made from olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and a touch of mustard to bring out the natural sweetness of the cabbage. For a more robust option, mix soy sauce with a hint of sesame oil, garlic, and ginger for an Asian-inspired twist. Alternatively, a dollop of creamy tahini sauce can add a rich, nutty flavor that pairs beautifully with the cabbage’s soft texture.

Pairing Ideas

Bap cai luoc is incredibly versatile and pairs wonderfully with a variety of dishes. Serve it alongside grilled meats like chicken or pork to add a fresh, crisp element to your meal. It also works well as a side for fish dishes, especially those seasoned with herbs and citrus, providing a clean, refreshing contrast. For a vegetarian option, combine your boiled cabbage with quinoa and roasted vegetables for a hearty, satisfying meal.

Make-Ahead Instructions

Preparing bap cai luoc ahead of time can make your meal planning seamless and stress-free. To ensure the cabbage retains its flavor and texture, follow these specific make-ahead instructions.

Blanch and Store

Begin by blanching the cabbage in boiling water for just two minutes until it is slightly tender but still crisp. Immediately plunge the blanched cabbage into ice water to halt the cooking process. This step preserves its vibrant color and crisp texture.

Next, thoroughly drain the cabbage and gently pat it dry with paper towels. This removes excess moisture that could cause sogginess if stored.

Once dry, wrap the cabbage in paper towels to absorb any residual moisture. Place the wrapped cabbage in a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container. Store the cabbage in the refrigerator; it will stay fresh for up to three days.


When ready to serve, reheat the cabbage to revive its texture and warmth. Lightly steam the cabbage in a steaming basket over boiling water for about one to two minutes. Alternatively, you can quickly sauté it in a pan over medium heat with a bit of oil. This will help to bring back the warmth and enhance its tender yet crisp texture.

Remember, reheated bap cai luoc pairs excellently with the previously suggested dressings and pairings. Whether you choose a simple vinaigrette, a blend of soy sauce and sesame oil, or a creamy tahini sauce, these toppings will integrate beautifully with the warmed cabbage, making your meal both delicious and convenient.


Ready to elevate your mealtime with something both simple and nutritious? Give bap cai luoc a try! This dish isn’t just easy to prepare but also wonderfully adaptable, fitting perfectly alongside various main courses. Whether you’re looking to impress at a dinner party or just making a quick healthy meal for yourself it’s a fantastic choice. Don’t forget you can prepare it ahead of time too making your meal planning a breeze. Enjoy the fresh tender goodness of bap cai luoc and make it a staple in your culinary repertoire.

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