Oseng-oseng Sawi Putih: Stir Fried Napa Cabbage (Vegan)

A quick, simple dish of stir-fried napa cabbage, carrot strips and chillies - it's spicy, it's healthy, and it's easy!

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

Widely used in East Asia, especially in Japan, China and Korea, sawi putih (literally white mustard) or napa cabbage in English, is quite a common vegetable in Indonesia. Indonesians also refer to it as Sawi Cina or Chinese mustard/cabbage as it is often cooked in Chinese-influenced dishes. 

Sawi putih has an oblong shape with layers of light green/yellow/white leaves. The leaves are crisp and tender with fairly high water content. It has a mild and slightly sweet taste, is extremely low in calories, and is a great source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. 

In Indonesia, sawi putih is available all year long. It’s a cool weather crop and is cultivated in the highlands. It can be eaten raw, stewed, steamed or stir fried, and it’s great in soups and stir fried dishes. 

One thing I love about this vegetable is that it can be stored for a longer period in the fridge (sometimes for more than a week), compared to other vegetables. The cabbage is also versatile and can be paired with anything you have on hand. It’s excellent with meat, tofu, sausages, egg, with or without chilli – virtually anything! 

Oseng-oseng sawi putih is an example of the many stir fried napa cabbage dishes in Indonesia. It’s tasty, healthy, great for vegans, and most importantly, is a no-frills dish you can prepare even on your busiest day! Non-vegans can add shrimp paste for an extra oomph and to sharpen the flavour, but the dish is already delicious as it is, with the typical Javanese pairing of galangal and salam leaf. The cabbage needs only brief cooking as it’s already tender, and no liquid is necessary as it releases water when heated.

This dish is usually served during mealtime with rice, sambal and other protein-based dishes such as tempe goreng, and ayam goreng lengkuas. 

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Oseng-oseng Sawi Putih: Stir Fried Napa Cabbage (Vegan)

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: Stir-frying
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Vegan


Oseng-oseng sawi putih is a simple dish of stir-fried napa cabbage, carrot strips and chillies. This quick vegan dish is typical of Javanese home cooking, with galangal and salam leaves making it extra-fragrant.


  • 500 gr napa cabbage, wash, cut into bite sizes (around 3 cm long)
  • 2 carrots, peeled, washed, julienned
  • 5 shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 red chillies, remove the stalk, slice
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, sliced (optional)
  • 1 slice galangal
  • 1 salam leaf
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil


  1. Heat the cooking oil in a wok over medium high heat, then sautee the shallots, garlic, red/bird’s eye chillies, galangal and salam leaf for about 3 minutes or until fragrant.
  2. Add the carrots, fry for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add salt, mix well.
  4. Add the cabbage, and cook for about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Transfer the dish into a serving plate, garnish with fried shallots (optional).


  • It’s best to use a medium-sized cabbage. It should feel heavy with a dense head, firm stems, light green/yellow leaves, and without any blemishes or black dots.
  • To cut the cabbage: pluck enough leaves from the stem, clean and wash thoroughly, stack the leaves and chop across the veins into bite-sized pieces.

Keywords: vegetarian, javanese food, healthy

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