Sunday, September 27, 2009

Spiced red cabbage

All of the French recipes I've seen for red cabbage include sauteeing it with lardons (bits of pig) and then cooking with white wine.  I went out on a limb this weekend and tried to come up with something more fanciful.  You don't have to have a bad-ass knife like mine, but it can't hurt.

1 small head of red cabbage
1/2 cup white vinegar (the cheap stuff, like cider vinegar for example)
1 medium onion
1 large shallot
2 Tbs walnut oil
A few cups of Shaoxing wine
several grains of allspice
several grains of black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves
1/2 bunch mint leaves
1 large black radish

Remove the dark outer leaves from the cabbage, saving them for another use.  Slice the cabbage into half-centimeter layers, and cut off the thick white parts around the base of these.  (Save the leaves and the white parts of the cabbage: they'll both be right at home in your next minestrone).

Quarter the thin circles of cabbage as you slice them off, taking time to appreciate the trippy patterns that may appear on your cutting board.  Duuuude.

Once all the cabbage has been chopped into little ribbons in this way, place it in a large, non-reactive bowl with the vinegar.  Toss thoroughly and allow to stand for about 10 minutes.  This is to 'fix' the color of the cabbage, which would otherwise turn bluish grey when cooked.  You can skip this step if you don't mind that, of course.

While the cabbage is getting fixed, peel and finely chop the onion and the shallots.

Rinse the cabbage in cold water to remove excess vinegar.  Heat the walnut oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium high.  Add the onions and shallots, stirring to coat with oil.  Add the cabbage and cook for a few minutes, tossing frequently to try and distribute the heat evenly in your (probably crowded at this point) pot.

Once the cabbage is starting to go soft, add the salt, 3 grains of black pepper, 3 grains of allspice and 2 cloves to the pan, in addition to just enough Shaoxing wine to cover half of the cabbage.   Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium low.  Cover and allow to simmer for around 30 minutes, stirring once every 10 minutes or so.  Finally, remove the lid from the pan and turn the heat up to high, and cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated.  Turn off the heat.

Peel and slice the black radish into half circles.  Wash the mint leaves if necessary and chop coarsely.  Add the mint and the radish to the cabbage just before serving.  Of course, unless you plan on having eight cabbage-loving friends for dinner tonight, there will be leftovers, and the radish and mint will eventually just turn purple and blend in with the cabbage... not really a problem.
Taste and add salt, pepper, and ground allspice accordingly.  I ate this with wheatberries and chickpeas, which I had soaked the night before and cooked earlier, and with a dollop of silken tofu.  Not bad!  And it must have given me some serious energy, because I went to a party afterwards and stayed out until 4 am, which I hadn't done in years.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, bits of pig, slices of pig, strips of pig - I used to love them, until I realized that most pigs are smarter than my dog...

    Interesting flavor combination: I'd never have thought of putting mint with cabbage. Looks good!