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Cabbages and Kings

Cabbage is in season. In the latest Cafe Troppo veggie box we had two! A Chinese cabbage and a green cabbage.

Experiences of eating cabbage in my life time have been mixed, from the bland, watery, pale and tasteless vegetable ladled out by large jolly English dinner ladies, to more recent discoveries of extraordinary Korean kimchi and delicious slow-cooked smothered cabbage with wine and butter. It's a grand vegetable and deserves of post on its own.

Nick Nairn is a fabulous Scottish chef who celebrates regional and seasonal food. He was on TV when our children were young and was one of the inspirations for our daughter who is now a chef. His dishes are complex and take time and technique but are well worth the effort. This cabbage dish is no exception. It's a little over the top, using a whole bottle of red wine, and competes well on the plate with rich red meat dishes.

Marcella Hazan's Venetian smothered cabbage and rice is a recent discovery and an example of the essence of Italian food - so simple yet so delicious.

My friend Nicki sent me a recipe for Japanese cabbage pancakes that she was given by Moeri from Japan who was staying at her husband's sister's house while studying in Adelaide. These are so yummy and simple to cook. I will now be making them all the time!

These three recipes have all expanded my repertoire and perception of the humble cabbage.

Nick Nairn's Braised Red cabbage


1 red cabbage

100g red current jelly

50ml sherry vinegar

zest and juice of 1 orange

120ml of port

1 bottle of red wine

85g raisins

50g butter

Core and finely slice the cabbage

Heat the butter in a heavy bottomed pan, add the cabbage and stir it to coat.

Add and melt the red current jelly.

Add the vinegar, orange juice and zest, port and wine and season with salt and black pepper.

Bring to the boil.

Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for an hour.

Remove the lid, add the raisins and increase the heat to reduce the liquid until it is a syrup.

Macella Hazan's smothered cabbage and rice soup

( this is not a runny soup, it should be thick, almost like a risotto)

Half a cabbage (any type but savoy is my favourite)

1/2 cut of chopped onion

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped garlic


black pepper

1 tablespoon of wine vinegar

3 cups of homemade meat stock

2/3 cup of Italian risotto rice (e.g. Aborio or Carnaroli)

2 table spoons of butter

1/3 cup of freshly grated parmigiana cheese.

Shred the cabbage finely.

Saute the onion in the olive oil in a large pan until golden then add the cabbage, stirring to coat it well.

Cook the cabbage until it is wilted.

Add the salt, pepper, and vinegar. Turn the cabbage over once completely, lower the heat to a minimum and cover the pan tightly.

Cook for at least one and a half hours until it is very tended, turning it every now and then. (if the cabbage becomes too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water)

Add the stock to the cabbage and turn the heat to medium.

when the broth is boiling, add the rice and cook uncovered on a low heat so the soup bubbles at a slow, but steady boil, stirring from time to time until the rice is cooked. (if the soup becomes too thick, add more broth or water) When it is finished, the soup should be dense ( a bit like a slightly liquid risotto)

Turn off the heat and stir in the butter and cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper.

ladle into individual bowls and allow to settle just a few minutes before serving.

Moeri's Japanese Okonomiyaki

The recipe was so beautifully written out and illustrated, I had to post it as it came.

We scoured the Asian and Japanese grocery stores near our house for a bottle of Okonomiyai sauce to no avail, so we goggled and found this easy recipe. I'm still on the hunt for a bottle from Japan.

Mix a ratio of 3 tablespoons of ketchup, with 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and one tablespoon of soy sauce

The sprinkle of dried seaweed on the top literally takes the cake!!

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