How to Pickle Cabbage (Cambodian-Style)

by Isaac Paul

This bright yellow pickled cabbage can be served fresh or refrigerated for up to a month.


  • 1 Large head Napa cabbage
  • 3 Tablespoons Sea salt
  • 1 Chili pepper (stemmed, seeded, minced)
  • 4 Scallions (white & light green parts)
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 ½ Cups Water
  • 1 Lime (zest and all the juice)
  • 1 ⅓ Cups Distilled white vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground turmeric
  • 1 2 to 3 inch piece peeled ginger, grated
  • 4 Stalks lemon grass (discard outer leaves), minced
  • 5 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Teaspoons Fish sauce (or substitute 1 tsp salt)
  • Several dashes of hot sauce
  • Instructions

    Step 1

    Core the cabbage and discard outer leaves, then cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters.

    Step 2

    Cut the quarters crosswise into 1 inch pieces.

    Step 3

    Stem, seed, and mince the chili pepper.

    Step 4

    Coarsely chop the scallions.

    Step 5

    Transfer pieces to a large bowl and toss with 2 T of the salt, the chili peppers, and the scallions.

    Step 6

    Place a weighted plate/bowl on top of the mixture, and let it stand at room temp for an hour.

    Step 7

    Rinse and drain, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Return cabbage to the empty bowl.

    Step 8

    Zest lime, and squeeze juice into a separate cup to be used next.

    Step 9

    Combine the sugar, water, lime juice, the remaining salt, and the vinegar in a medium pan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt, then remove from heat. Let cool for 10 mins.

    Step 10

    Discard outer leaves of the 4 lemongrass stalks and mince.

    Step 11

    Peel and grate your ginger root.

    Step 12

    Combine the lime zest, turmeric, ginger, lemon grass, and garlic in a blender or cuisinart, along with 1/2 cup of the still cooling vinegar mixture. Purée, adding more vinegar mix until it's smooth.

    Step 13

    Add the remaining mixture to the blender and pulse several times to combine, then pour the blend over the drained cabbage. Add the fish sauce or additional salt, and your preferred hot sauce.

    Step 14

    Mix well! It helped that this bowl had a lid.

    Step 15

    Cool to room temp and serve, or cover in airtight container(s) and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.