Seared Napa Cabbage with Miso Butter

Beautifully charred napa cabbage paired with a rich, umami miso butter. Suitable decadence for the humble vegetable, I’d say.

Searing cabbage like a steak not only gives you incredible charred notes, but the intense heat locks up all those juices, keeping each leaf juicy and crunchy. It’s relatively simple, but made to impress.

My Chili Garlic Smashed Brussels Sprouts is another example of a dish where the humble vegetable takes center stage. As in this recipe, charring really helps the vegetable take on a new, powerful dimension of flavor.

Seared Napa Cabbage with Miso Butter

5 from 10 votes
Recipe by George L. Course: DinnerCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time



Beautifully charred Napa cabbage paired with a rich, umami miso butter. Suitable decadence for the humble vegetable.


  • 1 large (700 g) Napa cabbage

  • vegetable oil, for searing

  • Miso Butter Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter, I used melt organic

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • 3 tablespoons light-brown miso

  • 4 tablespoons mirin (or sake)

  • 1/3 cup (80 g) water

  • 2 teaspoons tamari soy sauce

  • Toppings
  • 1 sheet nori (dried seaweed), toasted

  • 1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds

  • 1 scallion, thinly chopped


  • Prepare Napa Cabbage. Start by washing the cabbage thoroughly. Note: Most of the dirt is between the outer leaves. I usually just peel them back slightly to wash, but you can also simply remove the few outermost leaves. Tie butcher’s twine around the cabbage to secure the leaves, spacing each knot about 5 cm (2 inches) away from each other. Then cut the cabbage into circular ‘steaks’ by slicing in the middle between each knot. For each cabbage ‘steak,’ secure the leaves across the diameter with 3-4 more strings. Note: make sure to use extra strings to secure the leaves (especially the ones in the center). This not only helps develop a more even sear, but makes sure the ‘steaks’ don’t fall apart when you try to flip it.
  • Sear the Cabbage. Preheat the oven to 420 F (215 C). Make sure your kitchen’s ventilation is good here. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Once it starts smoking, add about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and follow with the cabbage ‘steak.’ Note: each ‘steak’ will have a side with larger diameter due to the natural curvature of the cabbage. I usually sear the cabbage with the wide side down first, so the leaves won’t come apart when they slightly shrink from cooking. For the first side, you want to sear until it is so deeply charred that you’re afraid it is burnt, about 4-5 minutes. Carefully flip the cabbage and continue searing for about 2 minutes, then immediately transfer the skillet into the oven to roast for 5 minutes.
  • Prepare Miso Butter Sauce. While the cabbage is roasting, prepare this sauce. In a sauce-pan, melt vegan butter on medium heat and add minced garlic. Sauté the garlic until fragrant, and follow with miso, mirin, water, and tamari soy sauce. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt — the sauce should taste overly salty by itself since the cabbage is not seasoned.
  • To Finish. Once cabbage is done, carefully remove butcher’s twines and you’ll find that it can open up just like a flower. Ladle the miso butter sauce all over, and garnish with toasted nori, toasted sesame seeds, and scallions. Enjoy immediately. P.S. this dish pairs well with a good (vegan) dry white wine (sauvignon blanc).


  • Miso Butter Sauce. There are lots of ways you can change up the flavor of this dish using a different sauce. Umami, citrusy, and spicy flavors all go well with seared cabbage.

Did you make this recipe? I’d love to see your recreations!

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