Sesame-fried cabbage

A great dish for propping up, physically and flavourwise, Asian-flavoured pastries, fritters and the like. I like to use a lot of onion with the cabbage, sometimes close to equal quantities. One small cabbage will feed six people easily, in a supporting role to spring rolls or fritters. This one has to be for Patty Cremin, who was frying cabbage many years ago when it was neither fashionable nor profitable, though I never saw a bottle of sesame oil in her kitchen.


  • ½ small head savoy, spring or other cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tsps sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tblspn soya sauce


CHOP THE CABBAGE into fairly thin strips, and the onion into thin quarter-rounds. Dry roast the seeds in a heavy pan, stirring occasionally, until very lightly browned. They will start to pop and fly out of the pan, which is why you can’t really do them in the oven! I sometimes cook the cabbage in boiling water for a minute before frying it, especially hard, dry cabbages like savoy. Others, like spring greens, Chinese leaves and pak choy, are easy to fry from raw.

Heat some oil to a high temperature in a wok and cook the onion in it for a minute before adding the cabbage. Continue cooking and stirring for a few minutes, the time will depend on the cabbage you’re using. An occasional splash of water will help to cook the cabbage, but be careful, too much will slow the cooking to something more like boiling than frying. Just as you judge the cabbage to be done it should have softened but still be green - toss in a little soya sauce, then turn off the heat and stir in the sesame seeds and the sesame oil.