Whether red or green, or frilly as with napa or savoy, cabbages become soft, a little sweet and mild tasting when steamed. Unlike boiled cabbage, steamed cabbage does not have a funky smell. Steaming uses boiling liquid to indirectly cook. Because the cabbage is not in direct contact with the cooking liquid, it retains its shape better, does not lose as many nutrients and is less likely to become limp. Microwave cabbage in a safe bowl or a microwave steamer to quickly and precisely cook cabbage.
Preparing the Cabbage
Remove all discolored portions of the cabbage, including the outer leaves if they have been bruised or have visible blemishes. Cabbage can be steamed in wedges or in thin slices or shreds. The larger and thicker the piece of cabbage, the longer it takes to cook. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, going through the stem and core portions of the cabbage. Using the tip of the knife, carefully cut a "V" shape -- one line on each side of the core on each half -- to remove the hard core of the cabbage. Slice the cabbage into 1/4-inch pieces or if you are cutting it into wedges, cut it so the widest part of the wedge is no bigger than 1 1/2 inches. Rinse the cut pieces of cabbage under running water, gently shaking to remove excess moisture.
Steaming in a Bowl
To steam cabbage in the microwave, place it in a microwave-safe bowl, adding 1/4 cup of liquid to the bottom. Cover the bowl with a plate, lid or plastic wrap and microwave on high. If you are using plastic wrap, leave one corner uncovered to allow the moisture to vent during cooking. Wedges are fully cooked in roughly nine to 11 minutes and sliced cabbage is ready in four to six minutes. Stir or rearrange the cabbage halfway through cooking to ensure even heating.
Steaming With a Microwave Steamer
Microwave steamers are designed to steam vegetables in the microwave without having excess liquid touch the vegetable during cooking. They have a vented middle tray where the cabbage can sit, and the cooking liquid goes in the bottom receptacle. There is a vented lid to use as well. While they are not necessary, microwave steamers ensure your food is as evenly cooked as possible during steaming. The settings and cooking times are roughly the same as for steaming in a covered bowl.
Eating Steamed Cabbage
Dress steamed cabbage with butter and salt for a fast and delicious meal. Because of its mild taste and crisp-tender texture, steamed cabbage pairs well with rich food and sauces, such as fried sausages, wine-based sauces or fried food. For a more unconventional pairing, dress steamed cabbage with chili peppers, sesame-seed oil, soy sauce and black Asian vinegar for a tart, flavorful, light dish.