Sunday, October 29, 2006
It's cabbage, but not as we know it......
Doing my homework for my creative writing course today sent me spiraling back to my childhood and with it, the tastes and flavours which are so deeply ingrained with those memories. Some bad - liver, broad beans, dog biscuits (don't ask, I was a curious child) but mostly good - custard, crumble topping, peas, cod, anything baked by my mother, her bucketful's of strawberry jam (literally) and, weirdly, cabbage.
Perhaps not an obvious choice for a child but there was, and still is, something about white cabbage that makes my tummy smile. I have never liked Sunday roasts, finding meat rather cumbersome and indigestible, however I used to relish the taste of cabbage softened in gravy.
Since then, trips to Vienna have rekindled my love for cabbage, this time in the shape of sauerkraut, and when I spied a perfect little baby green example in the shop today I could not resist.
Still fighting off a cold and firmly believing that the combination of garlic, chili and ginger has the power to kill all wayward germs, I concocted the following cabbage dish. I added caraway seeds as they are reputed to counter the (ahem) gassy properties of cabbage but also I love the sweet character they add to a dish.
I'm afraid that I seem to have stopped measuring ingredients when I cook for one, taking a rather haphazard approach. Happily one that works but it does mean that I can't give exact quantities. Be brave, experiment!
1 onion, finely sliced
1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
thumb' of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
sprinkling of caraway seeds
1 little baby cabbage, finely shredded
white miso soup made with paste and hot water (or use vegetable stock - I just don't have any!)
tamari (or soy sauce if you're not wheat-shy)
nam pla (fish sauce so omit if vegetarian)
half a can of cooked chickpeas
Fry the onion, garlic, chili and ginger in a glug of groundnut or vegetable oil until soft and sweet. Add the caraway seeds and the cabbage. Stir well.
Pour in enough miso or stock to cover, shake in a good measure of tamari or soy sauce, a drop or two of nam pla and sherry, stir and cover. Cook on a low heat for approximately 10 -15 minutes, checking the moisture levels and topping up with sherry/stock as necessary.
Add a handful of frozen peas and chickpeas (if you need the protein - else serve as a side dish to steamed white fish or pork chops), cover and cook for up to five minutes.
The white miso and caraway seeds create a sweet base for this dish which is counterbalanced by the tamari and chili. Oh yes, I have rekindled my love for cabbage. Just not in gravy this time.