Some people might raise their eyebrows when they read that this page is all about cabbage recipes. Cabbage?
The same people might have eaten it for their lunch recently; in a salad, as coleslaw in a sandwich, in soups, as a pickled side dish or as part of a burger or kebab.
Cabbage is like the quiet staff member every company has, that does all the hard work but never gets the deserved recognition for it.
Looking at all the cabbage recipes and at the worldwide consumption, it becomes clear that this vegetable is still an integral part of everyday food in many countries.
The biggest producers of cabbage are China, India, Russia, South Korea and Ukraine.
Cabbage likes to grow in a temperate climate, and it is here where you find a wealth of traditional dishes.
It is extensively used throughout Europe, especially the Eastern regions, in Russia, China, India and above all, Korea.
In Korea, cabbage is part of the national dish–kimchi. Kimchi is a dish of salted, spiced and fermented cabbage with other vegetables.
Another famous version of a cabbage recipe is sauerkraut (German, sauer = sour, kohl = cabbage). The “Kohl” is fermented with salt and spices (juniper berries and caraway seeds, for example) which results in a very durable, slightly sour food. Sailors used to bring sauerkraut on the long sea journeys to prevent scurvy.
The compound responsible for keeping the sailors healthy is vitamin C. A small, 100g/3.5oz serving of raw cabbage covers half of our recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 70% of vitamin K (crucial for bone health). Together with B-vitamins, minerals (manganese, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus), dietary fiber, and antioxidants cabbage is an excellent source of essential nutrients.
Besides the already mentioned cabbage recipes that involve pickling (fermenting), you can also steam, boil, braise or eat it raw. The blanched leaves can be used as a wrapper for savory or sweet and sour fillings.
The most common variety is the green cabbage head. It can weigh as much as 4kg/9lbs and is also available in white or red/purple.
A close botanical relative is Chinese (napa) cabbage which can be used in many cabbage recipes interchangeably.
Make sure that the heads you buy have no brown or wilted leaves, no holes, and look compact, vivid and healthy.
Always wash thoroughly and use as fresh as possible to avail of all the flavors and nutrients.
Sometimes people associate cooked cabbage with an unpleasant odor. It can happen when it is overcooked which produces a sulfurous gas. To avoid upsetting your neighbors always stick to the instructions in the cabbage recipe and cook the vegetable with still some bite to it. This way you add a nice, slightly crunchy texture to the dish.
Traditional cabbage recipes often include spices like fennel seed, caraway seed or cumin to aid digestion. They not only help to break down the compounds but also lend a savory-aromatic taste to the dishes.
Go on, eat cabbage again.