Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis, known variously in English as Chinese cabbage, Napa cabbage and Chinese Leaf, is called acelga in Brazil, and under that name has made its way into many Brazilian vegetable and salad recipes. (Incidentally, the English name Napa has nothing to do with the California wine-growing district. Napa comes from colloquial Japanese nappa (菜っ葉), which means any edible leaf.)
Brazilian dictionaries and the Portuguese-language version of Wikipedia define acelga as chard, not Napa cabbage, but we've never seen true chard, which is a member of the beet family not a cabbage, in a Brazilian supermarket or farmers market under any name. Perhaps in Portugal acelga refers to the plant called chard in English, but in Brazil the word is restricted to Napa cabbage.
We'll feature some Brazilian recipes for acelga in the next few posts. Under it's various English monikers, this green is easy to find in North American and European supermarkets in larger metropolitan areas, and in Asian groceries in cities that have Asian immigrant communities. Salads made with this green are light, refreshing and nutritious and serving a salad with Napa cabbage can elevate the day-to-day salad to something new and exotic.