Garlicky Cabbage with Fish Sauce Stir-Fry

garlicky cabbage with fish sauce in a white bowl

You will love this delicious and healthy Thai style garlicky cabbage with fish sauce stir-fry that takes less than 15 minutes to make from start to finish and will cost about $1 to make 4 servings. This would be a wonderful side dish to serve with my recipe for peanut free pad Thai.

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Copycat of Trader Joe’s Stir Fried Garlicky Cabbage

I noticed that people were raving about Trader Joe’s Stir Fried Garlicky Cabbage on social media which piqued my curiosity. Trader Joe’s shares that their vegan recipe seasoned with yeast extract and kombu is inspired by a Thai dish known as “Galam Plee Pad Nam Pla” which approximately means cabbage stir fry with fish sauce. Their frozen cabbage product may contain peanuts, coconut, and/or cashew due to shared facilities.

I decided to make the Thai version of garlicky stir fried cabbage from scratch to ensure an allergen-safe meal and to save money. A whole head of cabbage costs $2 and I can easily make 6-8 servings. It turned out to be an easy side dish, takes me 15 minutes to make from start to finish, and it’s a hit with the family.

Simple Ingredients

  • Cabbage – the star ingredient will be cabbage, a round light green one is perfect for this recipe. I cut the cabbage in half and then into quarters, and use a knife to cut the core out. Then, I mostly use my hands to tear the leaves into bite sized pieces and to separate the layers.
  • Garlic – I use 4-5 cloves, approximately 1 clove per serving. I will use an extra clove if the garlic pieces are smallish or if someone loves garlic a lot.
  • Fish sauce – I like using Red Boat fish sauce (affiliate), it’s made in a fish only facility.
  • Sugar – It’s a nice balance for the fish sauce, use any kind of sugar.
  • Water – add 1-2 teaspoons at a time to flash steam your cabbage until desired tenderness. I like tender-crisp cabbage but some people like it softer.

Allergy Aware Garlicky Stir Fried Cabbage with Fish Sauce

This recipe is free of peanuts, tree nuts, egg, dairy, soy, shellfish, sesame, and wheat as written. If one is allergic to fish, try subsituting with liquid aminos or coconut aminos. See my post about soy-free soy sauce options or what’s in my cupboard for ideas.

If you like this recipe, you might also like serving it with my recipe for garlic noodles for more garlicky goodness or as a side dish with red curry chicken.

If you like recipes with cabbage, you might enjoy my beef fried rice with cabbage and carrots or my recipe for kalua pork with cabbage, which feeds a crowd and is free of top allergens.

garlicky cabbage with fish sauce in a white bowl
5 from 6 votes

Garlicky Cabbage with Fish Sauce Stir-Fry

You will love this delicious and healthy Thai style garlicky cabbage with fish sauce stir-fry that takes less than 15 minutes to make from start to finish and will cost about $1 to make 4 servings. This would be a wonderful side dish to serve with my recipe for peanut free pad Thai.

Course dinner, lunch, vegetable side dish
Cuisine Thai
Keyword garlicky cabbage
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1/2 head cabbage tear or chop into bite sized pieces
  • 4-5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (or neutral tasting oil)
  • 1.5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons water


  1. Chop or tear the cabbage into bite sized pieces and separate the leaves. Mince the garlic and set aside.

  2. Preheat a large frying pan on medium heat (3-5 minutes) until a drop of water sizzles on the pan. Add the oil and garlic to the pan and stir fry until fragrant (30-60 seconds).

  3. Add the cabbage and stir fry until the half the cabbage is wilted (approximately 5 minutes).

  4. When the cabbage is half wilted, push some of the cabbage aside and add the sugar and fish sauce, stir to melt the sugar, and then continue to stir fry the cabbage in the sauce.

  5. Add 1 tablespoon of water to flash steam the cabbage, continue to stir fry and push the thicker rib pieces of cabbage to the bottom of the pan. Add another tablespoon of water as needed to cook the cabbage until desired texture (I like tender crisp).

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About Sharon Wong 277 Articles
Welcome to Nut Free Wok, a blog about Allergy Aware Asian Fare. I hope that you will find my food allergy mom experiences helpful and enjoyable to read as I write about recipes, cooking techniques, Asian ingredients, and food allergy related awareness and advocacy issues. My professional experiences include education, teaching, and a little bit of science and computers. Thank you for visiting! ~Sharon Wong, M.Ed.


  1. 5 stars
    The Trader Joes garlicky cabbage is one of my favorite products, but this copycat version was even better than the original! So tasty and easy to make!

  2. 5 stars
    This cabbage side is really a tasty and aromatic side dish, adding a delicious twist to any meal with its savory flavor.

  3. 5 stars
    We enjoyed this garlicky cabbage as a side dish last night. It was just right amount of garlic, quick to cook over the stovetop and really delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    Your Garlicky Cabbage with Fish Sauce Stir-Fry was nothing short of phenomenal! The piquant edge of the fish sauce melded with the earthy aroma of garlic perfectly, coaxing out the full flavors of the cabbage. The balance, the texture, the savoriness – it was all spot on. Thank you for sharing such an enticing recipe!

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