3 ways with red wombok

Have you ever had red wombok before? 

It is similar to a traditional Chinese cabbage, otherwise known as wombok, except that it is well, red. Bordering on purple.

It shares the same nutritional benefits , being rich in vitamin C and A as well as calcium and fibre. It is also low in fat and calories, which makes it ideal for those of us trying to eat on the lighter side ( I am getting ahead of myself here, as I read somewhere that we have 14 weeks till Xmas, that means silly season is only a couple of months away !)

The deep burgundy colour is due to the presence of anthocyanins (nutrients responsible for blue, red and purple pigments in fruits and vegetables ) which serve as powerful antioxidants. High levels of these put it in the Super Food category, along with blueberries and red grapes.

Flavour wise, it is similar to its cousin, the green cabbage ( Chinese or otherwise ), mild and sweet with a crisp and crunchy texture. You can use it as you would use plain cabbage, one notable difference being that it doesn’t seem to have the strong sulphuric smell generally associated with its counterpart, when cooked.

A large head showed up in my vegetable box, a few weeks ago, as one of the unusual items we’re given to try. 

Usually, I would buy a quarter of a cabbage, which is enough for a meal for the four of us. But as much as we like it, a whole head is A LOT of cabbage !  

Thankfully, wombok ( of any colour )  has a long shelf-life and doesn’t oxidise ( discolour ) when cut , which is great if, like me, you take a while to decide how to use it. 

Because we had so much of it, I experimented and came up with different ways to have it. We turned it into a salad, a stir fry and a power drink!

Asian Slaw

Adapted from a recipe by Pete Evans

Serves 4-6



6 cups ( 1/2 head ) shredded red wombok 

1 large carrot, julienned

4 spring onions, white and green parts, sliced

1 red chili, deseeded and sliced

1 red capsicum, julineed

5 radishes, sliced

100g bean sprouts

1-2 large handfuls of fresh dill

1 handful of mint leaves

2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Crunchy noodles, for garnish

Asian dressing

3 tbsp red miso paste

1 tbsp tamari 

2 tsp finely grated ginger

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp sesame oil

  1. For the dressing: Combine all ingredients except the oil in a small bowl and whisk together. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and sesame oil until emulsified. Set aside. ( Alternatively, place all the ingredients in a small blender and whizz until emulsified!)
  2. For the salad: Combine all the ingredients except the crunchy noodles in a large bowl, add half of the dressing and toss gently. Add a little more of the dressing if and as required ( the salad will “sweat out” juices of its own on sitting ). Store any unused dressing in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  3. Season to taste, sprinkle crunchy noodles and serve with grilled fish or chicken. 

Red wombok and vegetable stir fry

This is a simple stir fry, where you can use any vegetables you have lying around the fridge, especially when they are past their prime. I use sweet potato noodles in this recipe, because that’s my daughter’s favourite and it fits within the Paleo diet. It is translucent and has a chewy texture, very much like Chinese cellophane noodles, and has the benefit of being low-carb and low-cal. You can use any other kind of noodles if you prefer. It made a flavourful side to sauteed scallops but can be turned into a main course with the addition of chicken, beef,  lamb or tofu.  

Serves 4-6


2 tbsp coconut oil

5cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly

3 cups ( 1/4 head ) shredded red wombok

200g green beans, trimmed and cut in 5cm sticks

1 celery stick, trimmed and sliced

1 red chili, deseeded and sliced

1 large handful of bean sprouts

100g sweet potato noodles 

1 large handful of fresh dill  

2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

3 tbsp chicken stock or water

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp lime juice or lemon juice

  1. First, boil the noodles as per packet instructions and set aside to drain.
  2. Heat a wok or large saucepan over high heat. Add the coconut oil, ginger, garlic and onion and fry for 20 seconds or until just starting to brown ( do not burn ).
  3. Add the red wombok, celery, green beans and chili. Toss well for 2-3 minutes. Add the tamari and chicken stock/water, stir for a few minutes until vegetables are just cooked yet still crisp. Finally, add the noodles, bean sprouts and sesame oil and stir fry briefly, adding a little more water if the pan gets dry.  At that stage, you can also sprinkle more tamari for extra flavour if needed.
  4. Season the vegetables, squeeze lime juice and sprinkle with dill. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Pink Power Juice

I first tried this juice with red plain cabbage, after reading a French article about “drinking your salad”. There is no mistaking the cabbage flavour and it played tricks with my brain, as I kept thinking that I should be eating this juice rather than drink it. To be honest, I prefer to chew my salad, preferably on a plate. However, sometimes I am in a hurry and/or have days when my digestive system needs a little rest. This juice is for one of these days.

Serves 4 x 150ml 


1/4 head red wombok or plain cabbage

2 celery stalks, including leaves

1/4 pineapple, peeled and cubed

fresh coriander sprigs

1/2 lemon or lime

Sriracha ( optional )

  1. In a juicer, put the cabbage, followed by the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Serve immediately.

2 Comments on “3 ways with red wombok

  1. Love red cabbage. Will have to keep an eye out for the other. Looks wonderful

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