Cruciferous and delicious Nutritious, too: Prepared hot or cold, sauteed or in a salad, cabbage is a staple.

March 13, 1996|By Susan Taylor | Susan Taylor,UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

The humble cabbage gets around.

Throughout the world, it is pickled, boiled, braised, sauteed, stuffed, marinated and salt-cured even fermented and buried. It is served hot, cold and in between as a main course, an appetizer, a salad, a condiment. It can be as cool as coleslaw or as fiery as "kimchi."

In China, it shows up in marinated salads, stir-fries, soup and fillings for dumplings and egg rolls. In Korea, incendiary kimchi which is fermented, placed in jars and buried in the ground graces almost every meal, breakfast to dinner.

In Central and Eastern Europe, cabbage leaves wrap savory mixtures of meat for a dressed-up entree. Sauerkraut and braised red cabbage are synonymous with Germany.

Americans are most familiar with the solid-cored green and red varieties, although the long, narrow Chinese, or Napa, cabbage is available at most supermarkets. Considered superior for its delicate flavor, savoy cabbage of France and Belgium also can be found occasionally in local stores.

Many cabbage cooks take comfort in their culinary heritage. As a child, caterer Marlene Gorin loved being in the kitchen when her grandmother cooked traditional Jewish cabbage dishes. She loves the way the house smells when she makes her grandmother's stuffed cabbage. She also has a favorite cabbage soup.

Helga Henninger moved to this country in 1968 from Bad Gandersheim, Germany. She cooks red cabbage as a Thanksgiving side dish.

Her recipe is adapted from "Has Dr. Oetker Schulkochbuch" ("Dr. Oetker School Cookbook"), a book she received as a wedding gift 34 years ago. First published in 1911, the cookbook calls for goose fat or schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) in the recipe. Ms. Henninger updates with bacon. Excellent as an accompaniment to beef, pork and venison, it is typically served with boiled potatoes.

If cooked cabbage is generally re- garded as a cold weather dish, coleslaw brings to mind summer picnics and barbecues. To start, there are two dominant styles: vinegar-based and mayonnaise-based. Some recipes call for chopped cabbage; others for shredded. In any, you might find sugar, celery seeds, sweet pickles, garlic, apple, bacon or raisins.

People sometimes think of "cold and hot cabbage" as a Chinese version of coleslaw primarily because it's a cold cabbage dish with a vinegar dressing.

But there the similarity ends.

Chef David Lin uses Sichuan peppercorns and dried red chilies to fire up the spicy heat in this dish, which is also subtly flavored with ginger. Because the combination of sweet, sour and spicy-hot flavors is believed to stimulate the appetite, cold and hot cabbage is served at the beginning of a meal.

Stuffed cabbage

Makes 18 rolls

18 cabbage leaves (large leaves from 2 heads)

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

2 1/2 cups water (divided use)

1 diced onion

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons honey

6 crushed gingersnap cookies

juice from half lemon

handful of raisins or to taste

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1/2 cup uncooked rice

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1 egg

Steam or boil cabbage leaves until slightly wilted. Set aside. Mix tomato sauce, 1/2 cup water, diced onion, brown sugar, honey, gingersnaps, lemon juice and raisins, and pour into Dutch oven.

Mix ground beef with rice, onion salt, remaining water and egg. Place a heaping tablespoon of meat mixture in each cabbage leaf, roll like a burrito and secure with a toothpick. Place rolls in Dutch oven over the sauce and simmer, covered, for about 3 hours on top of stove on low heat, basting occasionally. Per serving: 200 calories; 9 g fat; 46 mg cholesterol; 252 mg sodium; 37 percent calories from fat Cabbage soup

Makes 10 to 12 servings

1 head of cabbage or remainder of 2 cabbages used for stuffed TC cabbage (approximately 8 to 10 cups), shredded

1 large onion, sliced

2 tablespoons salt or to taste

1 1/2 pounds stew beef

3 or 4 marrow bones

1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes

1 (28-ounce) can water

1/2 to 1 cup brown sugar or to taste

juice of 1 or 2 lemons or to taste

Place shredded cabbage, sliced onion, salt, beef and bones in a soup pot with enough water to cover. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Add tomatoes, water, sugar and lemon juice and simmer until meat is tender, about 2 to 3 hours. Soup should be thin. If it is not, add water. Per serving: 136 calories 2 g fat; 4 mg cholesterol; 1,518 mg sodium; 10 percent calories from fat Henninger's red cabbage

Makes 12 servings

2 to 3 slices uncooked bacon, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 medium head red cabbage, coarsely shredded

1 bay leaf

4 to 5 whole cloves

4 to 5 whole black peppercorns

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

3 to 4 tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths

1/4 cup dry red or white wine

salt to taste

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.