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:

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.