Easy Bap Cai Xao Recipe: Perfect Stir-Fried Cabbage Guide

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine yourself savoring the crunch and freshness of stir-fried cabbage, a popular dish that brings the simplicity and elegance of Vietnamese cuisine right to your kitchen. Bap cai xao, which means stir-fried cabbage, is a delightful side dish that’s as easy to make as it is delicious. Its light and savory flavors make it a perfect complement to any hearty main course.


To capture the essence of bap cai xao’s freshness and crunch, you’ll need a simple yet specific set of ingredients. Organizing them as follows will streamline your cooking process.

Main Ingredients

  • 1 medium head of green cabbage, finely shredded (about 8 cups)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons of fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped for garnish
  • Optional: a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes for added heat

Required Tools and Equipment

To make bap cai xao, you’ll need a few essential kitchen tools and equipment to ensure the cooking process is as smooth and efficient as possible. Here’s what you should have ready before you begin:

  • Large Wok or Skillet: The key to a great stir-fry is using a cooking vessel that distributes heat evenly and can handle high temperatures without sticking. A large wok is ideal, but if you don’t have one, a sizable skillet will work as well.
  • Sharp Knife: A good, sharp knife is crucial for efficiently chopping your vegetables. This will help maintain the texture and uniformity in size, which is vital for even cooking.
  • Cutting Board: Choose a sturdy cutting board for prepping your vegetables. Bamboo or wood is preferred as they are less likely to dull your knives.
  • Measuring Spoons and Cups: Accurate measurement of your seasoning will ensure the flavors are balanced perfectly in your dish.
  • Stirring Spoon or Spatula: You’ll need a long-handled spoon or spatula to stir your ingredients swiftly and safely as they cook.
  • Mixing Bowl: A mixing bowl will be useful to combine the carrots and cabbage with seasoning before they hit the wok.
  • Serving Dish: Have a serving dish ready to transfer the stir-fried cabbage from the wok once it’s cooked, preserving its crispiness and warmth.
  • Peeler: For the carrots, using a peeler will provide quick and uniform strips, making the cooking process smoother.

Preparing these tools in advance will streamline your cooking process, allowing you to focus on the flavors and textures that make bap cai xao a delightful dish.

Prep Work

Begin your cooking journey by prepping all your ingredients and tools. This setup will make the stir-frying process both smooth and enjoyable.

Cleaning and Cutting

  1. Wash the Vegetables: Start by thoroughly rinsing the green cabbage, carrots, and onion under cold water. This not only cleans the vegetables but also freshens them up before cooking.
  2. Peel and Cut the Carrots: Use a peeler to remove the outer layer of the carrots. Once peeled, slice them into thin matchsticks. This shape allows them to cook quickly and blend well with the cabbage.
  3. Slice the Cabbage: Remove any tough outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut it into quarters and remove the core. Then, slice each quarter crosswise into thin strips. Thin strips will ensure that your cabbage cooks evenly and absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients.
  4. Chop the Onion and Garlic: Peel the onion and slice it thinly. For the garlic, peel and finely mince it. These will be sautéed to create a flavorful base for your dish.
  1. Choose Your Protein: Whether you opt for tofu, chicken, shrimp, or beef, ensure it’s fresh and of good quality. Cut your protein into uniform pieces to guarantee even cooking.
  2. Prepare the Marinade: In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, minced garlic, and a dash of pepper. This mixture will infuse your protein with a rich flavor.
  3. Marinate the Protein: Place the protein pieces in a mixing bowl. Pour the marinade over the protein, ensuring each piece is well-coated. Let it sit for about 15 to 30 minutes. Marinating grants the protein ample time to absorb all the delicious flavors, enhancing the overall taste of your bap cai xao.

Following these preparatory steps will set you up for a successful cooking experience, allowing the flavors and textures of your bap cai xao to truly shine.

Cooking Directions

Now that your veggies are prepped and your proteins marinated, it’s time to get cooking! Follow these steps carefully to bring your bap cai xao to life with vibrant flavors and perfect texture.

Sautéing Garlic and Onion

Start by heating two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add minced garlic and sliced onions to the pan. Sauté them for about 2-3 minutes or until the onions become translucent and the garlic is fragrant. This step is crucial as it forms the flavor base for your entire dish.

Cooking the Protein

Increase the heat to medium-high, and add your chosen protein—whether it’s tofu, shrimp, or chicken—into the skillet. Stir-fry the protein for about 5-7 minutes or until it’s thoroughly cooked and nicely browned. Ensure the protein is spread out evenly to cook uniformly. Once done, push the cooked protein to the side of the skillet or temporarily remove it from the pan to make space for the vegetables.

Stir-Frying Bap Cai Xao

In the same skillet, add the sliced carrots and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Then, introduce the chopped green cabbage. Continue to stir-fry the mixture for another 5-8 minutes, until the vegetables are tender yet still crisp. This is the key to keeping the fresh textures intact. Lastly, reintroduce the protein to the skillet, sprinkle with soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, pepper, and stir everything together. Cook for an additional 2 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle seamlessly.

Assemble and Garnish

After your vegetables are crisp and the flavors are well-blended from the stir-fry, it’s time to add the final touches that will elevate your Bap Cai Xao from good to fantastic. Here’s how you can assemble and garnish your dish to not only enhance its taste but also its visual appeal:

  1. Transfer the Stir-Fry: Using a large spoon, carefully transfer the hot stir-fry from the skillet to a serving dish. Spread the mixture evenly to create a visually pleasing base.
  2. Add Fresh Elements: Sprinkle finely chopped green onions over the top of your Bap Cai Xao. This not only adds a burst of fresh flavor but also introduces a vibrant color contrast.
  3. Garnish with Sesame Seeds: For a nutty crunch, lightly toast some sesame seeds in a dry pan until they are golden brown. Sprinkle these over the dish just before serving.
  4. Drizzle with Additional Soy Sauce: If you love a stronger soy flavor, drizzle a small amount of soy sauce over the dish. This step is optional and can be tailored according to your taste preferences.
  5. Serve Immediately: Bap Cai Xao is best enjoyed hot. Serve it immediately to ensure the vegetables retain their texture and the flavors are at their peak.

By following these steps, you present not just a meal, but an experience that is a feast for the senses. Enjoy the harmonious blend of flavors and textures that Bap Cai Xao offers.

Serving Suggestions

Bap Cai Xao is a versatile dish that pairs wonderfully with a variety of sides. After garnishing your stir-fry and dishing it up, consider these delightful companions to round out your meal:

Partner with Grains

  • Steamed Rice: Classic white rice makes an excellent base for bap cai xao, allowing it to shine as the main flavor. For a healthier option, opt for brown rice.
  • Jasmine Rice: This long-grain rice brings a subtly sweet aroma and a soft, sticky texture that complements the crispy vegetables.
  • Quinoa: For a protein-rich alternative, try serving your stir-fry over cooked quinoa.

Enhance with Protein

  • Tofu: Add cubes of fried or baked tofu to your plate for a vegetarian protein boost.
  • Grilled Chicken or Pork: These lightly seasoned meats are simple to prepare and offer a satisfying contrast to the dish’s savory flavors.

Fresh Side Salads

  • Vietnamese Cucumber Salad: This light, refreshing salad with a hint of sweetness can balance the rich flavors of the stir-fried cabbage.
  • Romaine and Herb Salad: A simple salad with fresh herbs like mint and cilantro dressed in a lime vinaigrette offers a crisp, clean counterpoint to the dish.
  • Chopped Peanuts: Sprinkling crushed peanuts over the stir-fry just before serving adds a crunchy texture and nutty flavor.
  • Lime Wedges: A squeeze of fresh lime juice can enliven the dish with a burst of citrus.

Each of these options not only enhances the flavors of your bap cai xao but also turns it into a well-rounded, nutritionally balanced meal. Feel free to mix and match these suggestions according to your taste preferences and dietary needs. Serve immediately to enjoy the ultimate freshness and texture of this delightful Vietnamese stir-fry.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

After enjoying a delightful meal of bap cai xao, knowing how to properly store and reheat your leftovers can spare you from wastage and ensure your next serving is almost as good as the first. Here’s how you can keep and reheat bap cai xao to maintain its freshness and flavor.

Storing Leftover Bap Cai Xao

To store the leftover bap cai xao, allow the dish to cool at room temperature for no more than two hours to prevent bacterial growth. Then, transfer the cooled bap cai xao into an airtight container. Seal the container tightly and place it in the refrigerator. Properly stored, the bap cai xao will last for up to 3-4 days in the fridge.

Reheating Bap Cai Xao

When you’re ready to reheat, you have a couple of options that can help retain the texture and flavor of the dish:

In the Microwave

Place the bap cai xao in a microwave-safe dish and cover it lightly with a microwave-safe lid or a piece of wet paper towel. This helps to keep the moisture in and prevent it from drying out. Microwave on high for about 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through to ensure even heating.

On the Stove

Reheating on the stove can help bring back a bit of the original crisp and flavor. Simply heat a pan over medium heat, add a small splash of water or vegetable oil, and stir-fry the bap cai xao for a few minutes until it is warm throughout. This method is ideal if you enjoy a slightly crispier texture.

Both methods will help rejuvenate your dish, making your leftovers just as enticing as the original meal. Be careful not to overheat, as it can soften the vegetables too much and diminish the vibrant textures.


Now that you’ve mastered the art of making bap cai xao your culinary repertoire has just expanded with a versatile and delicious dish. Whether you’re serving it as a hearty main or a light side you can’t go wrong with this flavorful stir-fry. Remember to enjoy your creation fresh and when you do have leftovers they’re just a quick reheat away from being delightful again. So go ahead give it a try and let the vibrant flavors of this simple yet satisfying dish brighten your meal times.

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