This bacon cabbage stir-fry is a quick and easy recipe that guarantees success. Why? Because this cabbage recipe uses bacon fat to stir-fry the cabbage, crispy bacon itself is a sure-fired ingredient irrespective of what you are pairing with it. The best part is it only involves a handful of ingredients, making it suitable to be included in your regular dinner rotation.
This cabbage stir fry can either be the main dish or commodity served with steamed rice in typical Chinese families.
How to stir fry bacon with cabbage
Although this is a simple recipe, there are a few tips I will include in the detailed steps below. I would suggest reading this first rather than jumping straight to the recipe below.
Prepare the cabbage and other ingredients
I use round Chinese cabbage for this recipe, but it is equally good to use napa cabbage.
- Clean and drain a head of cabbage, remove any tough outer leaves, especially if bruised or damaged, cut it into large portions, and remove the thick core, which is tough to eat.
- Next, cut away the thick part of the cabbage, set aside, and cut the thin leaves into large pieces about one to two inches square.
- Now, let’s return to the thick sections and trim off the rib and other thick parts before cutting them into pieces.
- I also included some carrots to improve the color and presentation of this recipe. First, cut the carrots into 1.5 inches crosswise, then into 1/4 cm slices, and then cut into julienne.
- You can also include some chili peppers in the recipe to make it slightly hot and spicy. First, cut two dry chiles into sections, then remove the seeds. Alternatively, you can substitute the dried chilies with 1-2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes.
- I also include a large tablespoon of coarsely chopped garlic in the recipe., I usually do not use minced garlic since it can burn quickly during sauteing. You can also include some thinly sliced shallots along with the garlic if you like.
Fry the bacon
Now let’s get some bacon. I use about 200g of streaky bacon for one pound of cabbage. Remove the excess water with paper towels if it is too wet. Remember that the size will shrink after the oil is rendered, so do not cut the bacon too small. I prefer to cut them into slices of 1.5 inches in length.
The stir-frying process
- Now let’s start cooking. First, heat the wok without any oil until hot, then place the bacon into it and let fry over medium heat until crispy. It will take a while in this process, about five to seven minutes depending on the heat. If you do not have a wok, you may use a large skillet or frying pan.
- After a few minutes, the moisture in the bacon should have evaporated, and the oil will start to render. At this point, turn down to heat to medium-low and continue to stir-fry until the bacon crisps up.
- When the bacon becomes crispy, remove them along with the oil from the wok. Transfer the bacon to a wire mesh strainer to drain away from the oil and return a portion of the oil required back to the wok to saute the garlic. I did not use all the bacon oil for health reasons, but you can use it if you are ok with it. You can add olive oil or vegetable oil to substitute part of the bacon fat.
- Saute the chopped garlic with the bacon grease until aromatic and slightly brown.
- Next, add the dried chili or chili flakes if you prefer. Then add the carrots and part of the cabbage, and turn up the heat to stir fry. When the cabbage starts to turn soft and wilted, add more cabbage as time goes by as the wok cannot contain all the raw cabbage initially. Do not add any water at this stage. The best way to bring out the flavor of the cabbage is to stir-fry over high heat. When you seared the cabbage, it will create some slightly charred spots with a beautiful aroma.
- Continue stir-frying over high heat until all the cabbage pieces start to turn soft.
- Turn down the heat, and season it with light soy sauce, black pepper, and salt. You notice now the cabbage has turned soft, and the volume had reduced to nearly by half compared to the volume when it first started. Now add a few tablespoons of water, cover, and let it cook for two to three minutes to ensure the cabbage pieces are soft. Please note that the water content of cabbage is high, and therefore it is only required to add a small amount of water.
- Remove the lid and do a taste test to ensure the flavor is right and the cabbage pieces are soft. Since there is still some water in the wok, I stir-fry it until all the water has evaporated.
- Finally, return the crispy bacon to the wok and mix well with the cabbage. Have a few quick stirs and flips, and remove from the wok immediately.
This bacon and cabbage stir-fry is quick and easy, and the flavor of bacon can guarantee that it is delicious. Best to serve with steamed rice.
Variations of the stir-fried cabbage with bacon
Here are some of the variations I suggest for this Chinese dish:
- Use smoky bacon to substitute the streak bacon for extra flavor.
- If you are not a fan of bacon, try substituting it with ground beef. It will not taste the same but is still a very delicious combination.
- You can also add green onion, red bell pepper, and brussels sprouts to the recipe.
- Adding some cider vinegar and light soy sauce will make it taste different yet yummy.
Other cabbage recipes in this recipe
If you like bacon cabbage stir-fry, here is a list of cabbage recipes on this food blog. Give them a try!
- Chinese cabbage soup with meatballs– A warming, comforting and soothing soup perfect for a weeknight regular.
- Cabbage Thoran– Southern India cabbage stir-fry.
- Chinese stuffed cabbage– A different type of cabbage roll, one of the best recipes on this blog.
- Clean the cabbage, remove any tough outer leaves, cut it into large portions, and remove the thick core, which is tough to eat.
- Next, cut away any thick parts, then cut the thin leaves into large pieces about one to two inches square.
- Cut the carrot into julienne, about 1-2 inches in length.
- Cut two dry chiles into sections, then remove the seeds.
- Cut the bacon into slices of 1.5 inches in length.
- Heat the wok without any oil until hot, then place the bacon into it and let fry over medium heat until crispy.
- Transfer the bacon to a wire mesh strainer to drain away from the oil and return a portion of the oil required back to the wok to saute the garlic.
- Saute the garlic until aromatic and slightly brown.
- Next, add the dried chili and carrots, and cabbage gradually turns up the heat to stir fry.
- When the cabbage pieces start to turn soft, turn down the heat, and season it with light soy sauce, black pepper, and salt.
- Add a few tablespoons of water, cover, and let it cook for two to three minutes to ensure the cabbage pieces are soft.
- When the water has evaporated, return the crispy bacon to the wok and mix well with the cabbage. Have a few quick stirs and it is ready to serve.
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Soeos Szechuan Dried Chili，Dry Szechuan Pepper, Dry Chile Peppers, Sichuan Pepper, Dried Red Chilies, 4oz, (Very Mild Spicy)
KOVOT Asian Cuisine Ceramic Serving Bowl Set - Includes (4) 20-Ounce Bowls, (4) Oriental Spoons, (4) Sets Of Chopsticks
EXTRA LARGE Organic Bamboo Cutting Board with Juice Groove - Kitchen Chopping Board for Meat (Butcher Block) Cheese and Vegetables | Anti Microbial Heavy Duty Serving Tray w/Handles - 18 x 12"
Lodge 14 Inch Cast Iron Wok. Pre-Seasoned Wok with Flattened Bottom for Asian Stir Fry and Sautees
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1117Total Fat: 69gSaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 36gCholesterol: 200mgSodium: 4869mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 9gSugar: 14gProtein: 74g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 2/21/2022