16 May 2012

Recipe(s) a Day: Cabbage Stir-fries

Cabbage is one of those sadly ignored vegetables with a bad reputation.  And with the way a lot of people cook it, it deserves it.  But cabbage can also be really good, in addition to cheap, versatile, and easily available, especially in the winter.  For about 6 months out of the year I always have some cabbage in the fridge and that means we can always have a vegetable for dinner even if I can't get anything else (and that happens a lot here).

But we're at the end of cabbage season now and even though I have more than one cabbage recipe, there's no way we want to eat cabbage much right now because we're tired of it.  So I'll give lots of variations here, but only show it once.  I'm cabbaged out.

Here's my basic recipe:

2 tablespoons oil
4-6 cloves of garlic, sliced or minced
1/2 head of lettuce, chopped
1 tsp or so of salt

Those are the basics.  I'll describe variations below.

Heat your oil and toss in the garlic.  You can add sliced or ground pork or chicken at this point, and/or sliced garlic, and/or broken pieces of star anise, and/or mustard seed.  Or anything other meat or larger spice you like.

Here's the cabbage.  It's about the same size here as in the US.  The type changed a few weeks ago to a greener cabbage.  It was whiter through the winter.  The greener heads aren't as densely packed and the leaves aren't as thick.

Slice in half and remove the center stalk.  You can save that for something else, like laghman, but that's a little much for me.  Half a head is generally about right for my family.  A whole head makes a lot of cabbage for one night.

Cut the 1/2 head in half, then in half again.

And slice thinly, or not so thinly, as you please.

And dump it all in your pot when the garlic starts to smell good, or when the meat has changed color, if you used that.  Stir that around a bit.

Then add whatever spices you like.  I used crushed red pepper, coriander, a little mustard seed (should have added that sooner, but I didn't decide in time), and the salt.  You could do fish sauce or soy sauce with brown sugar, or add sesame seeds, or cumin or turmeric or fennel or black onion seed, or any number of other things.  Black rice vinegar is really good with cabbage.  You really can do a million things with this depending on what you're serving it with.  It's easy to make it spicy to go with something mild, or sour to go with something sweet, or the other way around.

  Stir-fry for just a little while- I like it best mostly crunchy still.  I added vinegar at the end because I wanted a slightly pickled sort of taste to go with the plov I made.  I also often add a little sesame oil right at the end.

I forgot to get a picture after it finished cooking, but here's an idea of what it looks like after a few people have eaten some.  It cooks down quickly.  Yum.

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