Monday, April 12, 2010

Pick of the Week: Cabbage take 2

Last week I talked about plain cabbage -- green and red -- because it is so special, it deserves its own post. But I was so not fair to two of my other faves -- Chinese cabbages, which are bok choy and Napa, and Savoy. Bok choy starred in the March 3 Pick of the Week, so today, it's all about Napa and Savoy.

Napa cabbage looks like celery on steroids, with frilly, veiny leaves. , which even non-cabbage lovers might actually like. It's milder and a tad sweeter than the firm heads you see at the market, with leaves the consistency of Romaine lettuce -- with a bit of a bite. It is a mainstay in Asian cooking.

Savoy cabbage is round like its traditional sister, but is milder, with ruffled and deeply ridged leaves. Like Napa, it is milder than regular cabbage and not as crisp. It is a star in Italian dishes.

Choose: Look for firm heads, with no signs of mold or discoloration or brown spots.

Store: In the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic, for about a week.

And remember: All cabbages are one of the 13 foods the Web site Everyday Health calls powerful super foods.

I've picked two of my favorite recipes, one a Savoy Slaw using Savoy, the second, Kim chee. which I first tasted in a nail salon about 15 years ago. I was a regular there, and the owner insisted I try it one day. She shared her family recipe with me, the one that had been passed down through generations. Although I don't know her last name, her first name, appropriately, is Kim. It makes a great side dish with just about everything.

1/3 cup Greek nonfat yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tblsp. minced green onion
3 Tblsp. finely diced English cucumber
Zest of half a lemon
1 Tblsp. fresh dill, minded
2 cups Savoy cabbage, shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • In a small bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, onion, cucumber, lemon zest and dill. Set aside.
  • Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over high heat, spray with a light coat of Pam.
  • Add cabbage shreds and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, until it begins to brown.
  • Place cabbage in bowl. Coat with dressing.
  • Garnish with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pickling salt (if you can't find it, use kosher salt)
6 cups water
2 pounds Napa cabbage, cut into 2-inch squares
6 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths, then slivered
1/4 lb. daikon radishes, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tblsp. minced fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 dried hot red peppers, each about 2 inches long, split
3 Tblsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
  • Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in the water. Put the cabbage into a large bowl; pour salt water over. Weigh cabbage down with a something heavy, such as a plate or covered brick (what I use.) Let cabbage stand for 12 hours.
  • Drain the cabbage, reserving the brine. Mix the cabbage with the remaining ingredients, including the 1 teaspoon salt. Pack the mixture loosely into a large jar. Pour enough of the reserved brine over the cabbage to cover it. Let the kim chee ferment in a cool place -- temperature no higher than 60 degrees -- for 6 days. Place in the refrigerator for 4 days. It's ready and worth the wait. Store int he refrigerator. It keeps for months.

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