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Sichuan Hand-Torn Cabbage Stir-Fry (Shousi Baicai, 手撕白菜)

The Mala Market
Author: Kathy Yuan | The Mala Market | Inspiration & Ingredients for Sichuan Cooking


  • ½ head medium flat cabbage, washed and dried
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • 3-4 whole dried chilies (Facing Heaven zidantou preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons caiziyou* (Chinese roasted rapeseed oil)
  • ¾ teaspoon whole huajiao (Sichuan pepper) more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon salt more to taste
  • pinch white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese light soy sauce (Zhongba preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon aged Chinese black vinegar


  • Wash and scrub any dirt off the outer leaves of the cabbage, then pat dry or set aside until dry. Tear up half the head into about 2-inch square sections. Thinly slice the peeled garlic and set aside. Chop the dried chilis into halves or thirds (the more seeds exposed, the hotter the dish) and set aside.
  • OPTION 1 HOT-OIL METHOD: If using a steel/cast iron wok or pan, heat pan on high until smoking and then add oil. If using nonstick, add caiziyou to pan and then heat on high until smoking. Once oil is hot, lift pan off the heat and add the huajiao, chopped chilies and sliced garlic together, stir-frying rapidly until fragrant.
  • OPTION 2 COLD-OIL METHOD: In a wok or pan, add oil and huajiao to cold pan and then heat on medium until fragrant, stir-frying often. As soon as you can smell the huajiao aroma, but before they darken and burn, remove the huajiao from the pan and set aside. Turn the heat up to high until smoking, then lift pan off the heat and add the chopped chilies and sliced garlic together, stir-frying rapidly until fragrant.
  • Return pan to burner on the highest heat setting and add the shredded cabbage. Stir-fry rapidly to coat with oil and add salt and sugar. Continue stir-frying about 2 minutes, until the cabbage color changes and the edges have turned translucent. Pour the soy sauce down the wall of the pan, not directly into the cabbage, and stir-fry rapidly to distribute. Add the vinegar also down the wall of the pan so the fragrance can volatilize, and stir-fry briefly.
    If you removed the huajiao during the cold-oil method, garnish the dish with them once plated. Serve immediately and enjoy!


Cabbage is stir-fried on the highest heat possible to keep it crunchy and nutritious.
*If you are not using caiziyou, skip the step that calls for smoking the oil before using.