Chinese Sweet and Sour Cabbage – Nance and Robyn make the same recipe

Heads-up:  In the interest of full-disclosure this recipe came from a book that I found at a thrift store.  I like recipes that don’t force me to lose my mind trying to track down special ingredients.  And I don’t like recipes that use a bunch of difficult or time-consuming steps. I just want to try new recipes and make food that I think my family will enjoy. Thankfully, Robyn feels the same way so we’re going to switch the recipes up a bit and see how it all plays out.  

I’ve been scanning recipes and sending them to Robyn for her approval (like she’s the boss of me) and we’re hoping to bring more relatable recipes to the site.  We still want your recipe submissions, but please keep in mind that we’re not guinea pigs and we’re really not pretentious food bloggers.  Ain’t nobody got time for recipes that takes 15 different ingredients and 8 hours in the kitchen before it can be served.  -nance


Every week we’ll post a recipe that we both made. This week’s recipe was Chinese Sweet and Sour Cabbage from the Cooking With Pryde cookbook by Pressley Ridge. Printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.

Robyn’s Take:

This week’s recipe was one that Nance found in a cookbook and I am ALL about the Chinese food (AS YOU KNOW) and I love cabbage, so I couldn’t wait to try this. Fred, being all clueless-like, said “I don’t see what’s particularly Chinese about it”, so I pointed out the vinegar. I mean, DUH.

Your ingredients:

Sweet and Sour Cabbage (1)

Bacon, brown sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, cabbage. Not shown: water, and chopped onion (because I didn’t notice the onion listed in the recipe the first 30 times I looked it over.)

I used store-bought bacon for this recipe because generally when a recipe calls for bacon, it’s expecting the smokey flavor of cured bacon. We don’t cure the bacon from the pigs we raise (because I think uncured bacon is THE BOMB), so I keep bacon in the freezer for just such an occasion.

First step: brown your bacon. I made my bacon in the oven, like such.

While the bacon was baking, I shredded my cabbage in the food processor.

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And then I chopped up an onion, because I realized the recipe called for it. The recipe calls for 2 Tablespoons of chopped onion, but my small chopped onion added up to 3 Tablespoons, so I threw it all in because I am SUCH a rebel. No use in wasting perfectly good chopped onion. (I don’t actually throw extra chopped onion away; I have a bag of it in the freezer, and if I have more chopped onion than I need, I toss the leftovers in the bag.)

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When the bacon is done, drain it on paper towels and let it cool.

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I’m only mentioning this because I KNOW HOW Y’ALL ARE, and SOMEONE will notice – the recipe calls for 6 slices of bacon, but I had 8 in the freezer so used them all. Shut up, they were small pieces!

Measure out 3 Tablespoons of bacon grease, and put them in a medium pan. Or, if you fried your bacon on top of the stove, use that skillet. Try not to slip on the grease that splattered all over your floor because you were too hoity-toity to fire up the oven to make bacon.

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Look at that lone tiny piece of bacon, swimming in a sea of bacon grease. Yummmm.

Toss your onions, sugar, cornstarch, water and vinegar in the skillet. Cook over medium heat “until it is thick and clear”, according to the original directions. What I did was simmer it for about 10 minutes, until it looked syrupy to me.

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While that was going on, I crumbled up my bacon.

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The kitchen troll was played by Loony Jake this week. Loony Jake was pretty excited about the bacon portion of the recipe, but REALLY annoyed that once again I was making something with onion in it, which meant he couldn’t have any. SUCKS TO BE YOU, Loony Jake.

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Remove the syrupy dressing from the heat, and let cool. I let it cool for about 5 minutes, and since the original recipe didn’t say exactly when to add the crumbled pieces of bacon, I just stirred it right into the dressing.

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Then dumped it over the shredded cabbage.

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Mixed it together well, put a cover on top of the container, and put it in the fridge. You’re supposed to let it sit for at least 2 hours before eating it, but I ate a spoonful before I put it in the fridge, and really liked it.

Two hours later, I liked it even more.

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This recipe gets two thumbs up from me, and two thumbs up from Fred. We both liked it a lot (Fred said “It’s kinda like sweet coleslaw”), and the chickens aren’t getting any of it. I’m definitely making this again. Good choice, Nance!


Nance’s Take:

Sweet And Sour Cabbage

The Beagle is only here because she smells bacon.

I have no idea what made me pick this recipe because I do NOT like anything with fresh cabbage in it.  That shit needs to be cooked (haluski) or pickled (sauerkraut) before I’ll partake. I think the words Chinese, Sweet, and Sour threw me and I just didn’t notice the word Cabbage.  Yeah, I’m aware that this is another recipe with Asian flair…anything to keep that Robyn happy!

Sweet And Sour Cabbage

It starts out with bacon which is always a good thing. True confession: I seldom make bacon. Someone else usually makes it because I have the attention span of a gnat. But Rick was in Louisiana and Shirley was tackling the damn cabbage so I got stuck with the shit job of frying it.  Boo!

Sweet And Sour Cabbage

The recipe called for shredded cabbage and this is where I think my mother lost her mind. We have a food processor, but for some reason Shirley got the grater out. I was too busy burning the bacon, making a taco casserole, and frying some chicken breasts (all at the same time) to care. When I realized that I was taking multi-tasking to the idiot level, I quit for the night.

Sweet And Sour Cabbage

We started bright and early the next day. If by bright and early you mean after lunch. The Beagle was bored with the whole cabbage situation before it even began.

Sweet And Sour Cabbage

The recipe said to use your bacon drippings for the sauce. Since I had made my bacon the night before I had to use my dirty little secret.

Sweet And Sour Cabbage

This ugly beat-up container sits in the back of my fridge.

Sweet And Sour Cabbage

Old school bacon grease. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it and OMG, fry some motherfucking potatoes in it!

Sweet And Sour Cabbage

She who keeps a container of bacon grease in her refrigerator will not use her hands to crumble bacon. I’m a walking contradiction.

Sweet And Sour Cabbage

I was so pissed that I had to cut this onion up just to get two tablespoons of chopped onion. The good news is that it can be chopped up and frozen. I learned that from Fred Anderson (Robyn’s husband) when he blogged about buying frozen chopped onions at the grocery store. Back when he use to write about normal things and not horrifying, scary things.

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The sauce was easy. You just throw everything in there and cook it until it thickens.

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Action shot! Once it has thickened a bit you dump it over your cabbage and mix it up.

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The recipe says to wait a couple hours before serving. I actually took a spoonful (knowing full well that I hate raw cabbage) while it was warm. It was delicious and tasted nothing like the shitty raw cabbage that I expected. I tried it after it cooled and it was still delicious.

Sweet And Sour Cabbage

Since I knew this was raw cabbage and I have a hatred, I made this with the intention of sending it off with my mother to her card party. Bye-bye fabulous sweet and sour cabbage. Bye-bye. :sob:

Everyone at the card party liked it, too. It’s a keeper for me!

Chinese Sweet and Sour Cabbage - Nance and Robyn make the same recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Original Source/Author:
: Side dish
Cuisine: Chinese, OBVIOUSLY
Serves: 12?
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 2 T. chopped onion
  • ½ c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • ¼ c. water
  • ⅓ c. vinegar
  • 1 head of cabbage, shredded
  1. Brown bacon; drain and cool; crumble.
  2. Reserve 3 T of bacon drippings; add to skillet. Add onions, sugar, cornstarch, water, and vinegar. Cook over medium heat until dressing is thick and clear (about 10 minutes).
  3. Cool for about 5 minutes.
  4. Mix crumbled bacon into the dressing, mix well, and then pour over shredded cabbage. Mix well, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.



Chinese Sweet and Sour Cabbage – Nance and Robyn make the same recipe — 46 Comments

    • If I have to make anything complicated in the kitchen, I immediately resent it and won’t enjoy eating it. Apparently I like to carry around my bitter feelings. Hee!

  1. Excellent move, Nance and Robyn! Any other day, I would nominate the cornstarch as the second ingredient that makes this “particularly Chinese,” but I’m too busy reading the I Ching in Robyn’s enigmatic bacon arrangement.

    • I have no idea why they titled it Chinese Sweet and Sour Cabbage. To me, it sounded mildly racist, but to me everything sounds racist anymore – obviously I’m paranoid of offending. Paranoid of offending everyone but Robyn, that is. lol

      • You can’t really do anything to incur Robyn’s wrath except hurt a cat. She’s easy. I’m the hot-head around here and I’m too lazy to make the effort. lol

      • I’m with Robyn on the wrath-to-cat-hurters-front — and with you on the idle-hot-headed one. Also, this recipe sounds so yummy, it might well result in a worldwide cabbage shortage.

  2. I’m trying this! I’m a cabbage lover, cooked, raw, hot, cold. Love it. The sweet & sour cabbage recipe that I just made last week was served hot. The cabbage was cut into 1″ pieces and cooked in the bacon grease. Yummy, but this sounds and looks yummier. Is that a word?

    • That’s because Robyn doesn’t even promote the poor guy. She’s awful that way. But seriously, don’t read anything he writes at night because it’ll freak you the hell out. Fred lives to torture. 😀

      • Hey, I did for a while (and do when he puts something new out), but then I forget to do it, because I have the attention span of a goldfish.

      • Even a goldfish recognizes it’s spouse once in a while, Robyn. You are a bad, bad wife. Turn yourself in at your local BadWife Jail…I’ll be there waiting in the cell beside you.

  3. This looks wonderful, and my family will pretty much eat anything that contains bacon, so it’s going on next week’s menu plans.
    Nance, help me learn how to keep bacon grease in the refrigerator. I hate throwing it away! You must filter it somehow and then let it cool somewhat before adding it to the stash. Teach me, O Snarky One!

    • Bwahaha.

      You wait until it’s cooled down and then you pour the bacon grease directly into the container. We don’t filter. Then we throw it in the fridge. And if add more to it the next time and it’s not hard and you don’t need to put that much thought into it. Seriously. Think OLD SCHOOL.

      • I may not be able to handle this level of easy, but I’ll try.
        And Amanda just sucked all the oxygen out of the air BECAUSE YOU KNOW AMANDA STRAINS HER BACON GREASE.

      • I believe Oldcat is correct on the Amanda grease. If it’s not coming from a gourmet pig, she’s not having it. 😉

      • I’m really old school. I don’t even put mine in the fridge. It sits in an old mustard crock on the counter. Of course sometimes you have to smell it before you use it, but I think the bottom grease must be 3 years old. Anyone want to come to dinner?

        This looks AWESOME! I do love to cook overly complicated recipes that take forever and require special ingredients and tools, but mostly it’s quick and easy for me so this is great.

  4. i agree.. please teach us what we need to know about saving my bacon.. grease. lol

    love this recipe.. looks so easy and sounds yummy. and thanks for the extra tip on freezing onions.. i had no idea either!

    we actually occasionally have cabbage cooked in bacon grease with onions and crumbled bacon on/it it. cooked with just salt and pepper and its really yummy!

    • See Above Cris. There’s nothing to it. You let it cool then toss it into a container and throw it into a fridge. I can’t even imagine filtering it because if you’re going to go through all that you might as well just use Crisco.

      Oh, that sounds good – I’m going to have to try that next time.

      • That’s how my Grandma did it, Oldcat, and I still do it. No need to fix what was never broken.

      • When my Grandmother rendered lard she would put them in huge peanut butter jars. And stored them in a “cave-like” part of the basement (I don’t know what it was called now). I bought lard from the grocery store and it’s NOTHING like the lard we grew up with.

  5. The way we always kept bacon grease is not the same as Nance’s – but worked for us when I was growing up. Mom just kept an old mug with the handle broke off (or whatever was handy that year) and just poured it in there every time she made bacon. We didn’t keep ours in the refrigerator or anything, but then we were using it fairly often and it didn’t last that long. It does appear that Nance strains hers though.

    Just a note – this is also what I do with my hamburger grease to dispose of it. I keep an empty spaghetti sauce jar in the freezer and pour it in that till it’s full and throw it away after it’s frozen. it’s not coagulating in the u-bend of my sink, and its not dripping out of my trash bags.

    • Nance does NOT strain her bacon. The little bits just sink so you’re not seeing them. I think it was Rick’s mom that kept her bacon in a crock on the counter and that was the first I ever heard of doing it. We just always refrigerated ours.

      That is a FABULOUS IDEA for hamburger grease! I’m ashamed to say that I have poured mine down the sink and then squirted a shit-ton of Dawn and hot water right after it. Fortunately, I have never had a clog, but I know my time is coming. But I’m going to do that with my grease from now on. Great idea !!!!!!!!!!

  6. I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning and thus I have two pissyish Amandaish comments:

    1. Robyn, if you already have chopped onions in your freezer why did you chop more for this recipe?

    2. My hypotheses about the recipe title is it’s supposed to be Sweet and Sour Chinese Cabbage and the ingredients should call for Chinese cabbage and not just cabbage.

    I’m going to take my crabby self to Starbucks and see if caffeine improves my pissyness.

    Oh–and this does look yummy and I’m going to make it. And Chinese cabbage is delicious, sort of a Romaine lettuce texture but with cabbage flavor.

    • Damnit, Nanc, GO BACK TO BED when that happens!

      1. I didn’t have enough chopped onions in the freezer, so had to actually chop an onion.

      2. I’ve never had (that I recall) Chinese cabbage, but it combines my two favorite things (Chinese and cabbage), so I need to give it a try!

  7. I’m going to make this tonight. I wish I saw this yesterday, when I had bacon leftover. I had to find a use for that bacon (eating it) so I suppose I’ll just have to go get some more : )
    And YES, by all means, follow Nance’s advice and fry things in bacon grease. It’s amazing. Potatoes, eggs, onions, croutons, cardboard, WHATEVER. Did you hear that? I bet you did, because my stomach is growling really really loud now!!!

    • When we had Fred’s mother and stepfather, sister and her husband here on Christmas Eve morning for breakfast, we served scrambled eggs that were cooked in a little bacon grease. SO good! There’s nothing that can’t be improved by adding bacon grease!

  8. I love that you’re going to be doing more simple recipes. I have at least three that we’ve added to our permanent rotation from this site.

  9. This recipe looks great! I’ve been looking for a new coleslaw recipe for summer BBQ and I think this would be great. I am guilty of filtering my bacon grease into a mason jar but I only use a paper towel so that can’t be too bad, can it? Not like I use anything fancy!

  10. People filter their bacon grease? SERIOUSLY??!! Mine goes into my grandpa’s coffee cup as is (hot, thank you very much) and goes in the fridge. No filtering, no cover, good for years (in fact I FINALLY used up the last of one coffee cup, and – using Robyn’s oven cooked bacon- started a fresh cup.) I won’t fry eggs in anything else. Someone pass Amanda her smelling salts 😉

  11. Question and a suggestion. Did this give you gas? Us gastric bypass girls have to watch that, especially if we work in an office. Heh. My mom always but some bacon grease in the green beans and it is delish.

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