Tientsin Cabbage

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Also known as "Napa cabbage," a type of Chinese cabbage that is mild flavored and predominantly grown in Asia. It can also be found grown in the United States, mainly in California and Hawaii where it can be grown year round. Tientsin cabbage has nutritional benefits in that it contains no fat or cholesterol, is low in sodium, and high in vitamin C. There are two varieties available for purchase, the ''che-foo'' variety and the ''chihili'' variety. The che-foo variety has a tall, more compact, head with many pale green colored leaves. This variety may also be found named Tokyo Giant, Tropical Pride or Wintertime. The chihili variety has a very large head that is more oblong shaped and its leaves are dark green in color. They can be found named Market Pride, Michihili or Shaho Tsai. Both varieties have fairly large leaves in comparison to other types of cabbage or lettuce. Tientsin cabbage is used raw in salads and slaws, cooked by boiling or steaming to be eaten on its own, or added to some Asian dishes. It can be used in any recipe that calls for cabbage. You can purchase Tientsin cabbage throughout the year at most large supermarkets and specialty produce markets. When selecting, choose only the heads that are compact and firm, with fresh, crispy leaves that do not contain any markings. The coloring of the leaves should reflect the variety you are purchasing. In general, the darker green the leaves are the more flavor they have. Watch for cabbages that have flower sprouts at the end, this is an indication that the cabbage is old or not grown in the proper environment and should be avoided. The cabbage can be stored up to five days in a refrigerator. When you are ready to use, clean under running water. Make sure to remove any excess water before using.

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