Coconut – Curry Cabbage

Coconut-Curry Cabbage, served with seared ahi and coconut rice.

As we mentioned a few posts ago, we made a Hawaiian-themed meal for some friends last week and it featured this cabbage dish. And since we liked it so much, we decided to make it again and post it. This cabbage recipe takes just a few minutes to make, but the mixture of bright, crispy cabbage with rich coconut milk and “funky” curry paste (and, optionally, fish sauce) is a real winner and a great compliment to tropical or Asian-influenced dishes.

Basic ingredients that are available in most grocery stores.

The recipe itself is easy, but very tasty. It comes from Bev Gannon’s Hali’imaile General Store Cookbook. This is a restaurant cookbook that often features very ornate and complicated preparations. But the flavor combinations in Gannon’s dishes are always original and intriguing, so usually we use the cookbook for inspiration and adapt the recipes, but this recipe only has minor revisions. It is one of the simplest recipes in the cookbook, and perhaps not surprisingly, one of the best (IMHO).

Slice the cabbage and dice the onion.

Saute the onion and the curry paste.

You start by dicing a small onion and then thinly slicing a medium green cabbage. Then, in a large skillet, add some oil and then soften the onion over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of green (or yellow) curry paste and some salt and cook for a few more minutes. Add the sliced cabbage and cook for a minute or two and then add about a cup of coconut milk. Simmer the cabbage for 6-8 minutes, or until the coconut milk reduces. Then add a splash of fish sauce (if you like it, we do), taste for seasoning, sprinkle on a few black sesame seeds and serve.

Add cabbage and coconut milk and briefly simmer. Season with fish sauce and salt.

Garnish with black sesame seeds.

Another bonus to this dish is that it is easy to scale up/down the recipe to match the number of guests. Expect that 1 medium cabbage will feed 4 guests. So use an overall ratio of 1 cabbage / one tablespoon cooking oil / one-half of a small onion / 1-2 tablespoons of curry paste / 1 cup of coconut milk / 1 tablespoon salt / 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds / fish sauce to taste. You can simply increase or decrease the recipe to match your needs. And as you can make this dish ahead, and then reheat it before service, this is a great side dish for entertaining.

So far, we enjoyed this dish as a side with sesame-crusted opah and with seared ahi. In both cases, the cabbage added a bit of crunch, pleasant richness and that touch of curry “funk” to the overall dish. As we really like coconut, we serve the cabbage along with coconut rice, and rather than being “too much” we find they are an excellent compliment to each other.

A great compliment to fish and rice.

As Californians, and living near the “Cadillac Desert”, we get cabbage year-round. We love making cole-slaw for summer barbecues and putting shredded cabbage in our tacos. But this dish takes cabbage to another level and is worth making at any time of year. And if you live in an area where cabbage is a fall / winter crop, we suggest you try this dish when cabbage is in season- it will give you a quick taste of the tropics.

Coconut-Curry Cabbage:

(Adapted from Beverly Gannon)

Notes Before You Start:

  • You can use green or yellow curry paste in this dish. Curry paste varies, so make sure to add a little, taste and adjust the first time you make this dish.

What You Get: A tasty, sweet cabbage dish. A particularly good side with tropical or Asian-influenced fish dishes.

What You Need: No special equipment required.

How Long? About 20 minutes. The only real “work” is slicing the cabbage and onion.


(serves 4)

  • 1 medium green cabbage, thinly sliced- 3-4 cups
  • 1/2 small white onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons green or yellow curry paste
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (or to taste- optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)


  1. Slice the cabbage and dice the onion.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and then the onion and curry paste and saute for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the cabbage and cook for 1-2 minutes, until it just starts to wilt. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until the coconut milk reduces and the cabbage is tender, but retains some crunch. Taste and season with salt and fish sauce, if using. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and serve.

18 thoughts on “Coconut – Curry Cabbage

    • Thanks for reading.

      We haven’t tried it, but I bet it’s fine (possibly better)…the main thing would be to compare the fat content of the canned vs. carton…

  1. I would use the the canned milk over the milk in a carton. The can is going to give you more of a true coconut milk. What you find in a carton is usually watered down and then flavored with extra yuckiness to make it taste like coconut again. You will find more fat (and flavor) in the can. Check the labels for the extra things you don’t want. If you it is a concern to you quite often you can find coconut milk in a can that is now labeled as BPA free as well.

  2. Thanks Enlightened Kitchen. The So Delicious brand is pretty good, and cost-effective, but I think with a curry like this, it’s better to use the can. $$, though, no? I like the So Delicious (unsweetened) for smoothies and the like. Looking forward to giving this a try!

    – Molly

  3. I feel honored to have had the pleasure to eat everything off that plate photographed above last evening. Can’t wait to try out the cabbage recipe here at home!!

  4. Fantastic, your curry cabbage recipe is slightly different from the one I make, so I’m going to get my compare and contrast head on!! Have you tried mustard seeds as a way to flavour cabbage?

  5. Pingback: Beef, curry mince, asparagus, savoy cabbage and brocolli | Yummy Lummy

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