So this is instead going to be a weekend of cooking, cleaning, sleeping late, reading, catching up with friends from afar, and maybe seeing a movie and having a spa date with a girlfriend. Hmm, it’s shaping up to sound kind of nice actually. I might even venture out into the Saturday shopping crowds… maybe. Ooh, and if I’m really motivated and the weather stays warm, maybe I’ll go for a jog in the English Garden. Eh. Probably not actually.
So, after a quiet Friday in the office, I launched the weekend with a good, home-cooked dinner. As I’ve mentioned in the past, most of my meals at home are built around my bi-weekly vegetable delivery- I seem to always have a glut of random vegetables that need to be eaten in the next couple of days. Right now it’s cabbage and carrots. The refrigerator is overflowing with a backlog of these winter vegetables, simply because they keep for longer and don’t demand my immediate attention, like the more delicate salad greens that tend to wilt or the fruit that shrivels up when left too long on the windowsill. So, cabbage! My default use for cabbage is Okonomiyaki, a delicious Japanese cabbage pancake that involves very few ingredients and minimal preparation, but that yields a fantastically satisfying dinner. But today, I wanted to do something a little different, still sticking with the Asian palate (I have realized that most of my cooking is Asian or Mediterranean influenced. I apologize for the dearth of German-inspired recipes on this site and promise to make some inroads into correcting that problem in the next few months, particularly as this blog is supposed to be about Germany, and yet on the recipe side it somehow lacks that strong connection. In my defense, Germans also defy stereotypes and do not sit at home eating sausages, potatoes, and sauerkraut for every meal. Asian and Mediterranean cuisines are also beloved by Germans, and you’re just as likely to be served a beautiful pasta dish or a curry when visiting friends – well, at least in the city. It might be different out on the farm). But veering back to the topic at hand, I had a big head of savoy cabbage (Wirsing) to prepare, and I knew just what to do with it: braise it.
Braised cabbage is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to prepare cabbage. When braised, cabbage lovingly melts and becomes sweeter, absorbing the flavors of the liquid in which it is cooked. A simple and always satisfying braise is with a bit of butter, cream, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. But I wanted something a little sweeter, sharper, and brighter, so I decided to braise it in coconut milk with curry paste. The resulting cabbage is basically a Thai-style curry that could be served over rice, though I chose to skip the rice and simply serve it alongside a filet of grilled salmon, which, by the way, is an inspired pairing just in case you are trying to figure out which protein to serve with your cabbage.
Curry Braised Cabbage
A couple easy substitutes are possible with this recipe, if you don’t have all the ingredients. First, while I believe red curry paste works best, obviously you could also prepare this with yellow or green curry paste. Also, the palm sugar can be replaced with regular sugar. And if you are vegetarian, simply sub out the fish sauce for soy sauce. I used savoy cabbage, which was delicious, but you could make this recipe with any cabbage, though I would steer away from something that would be too bitter. I imagine that this would also be an excellent preparation for brussels sprouts.
½ large head of cabbage, or 1 small cabbage, sliced into 4 wedges (try to keep the wedges intact as much as possible)
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbsp red curry paste
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp palm sugar
a squeeze of lemon
1. Heat oil on high in a frying pan or a heavy pan with a lid, on the stove. Use just enough oil to sauté lightly.
2. Using tongs, place the wedges of cabbage in the pan so that one side of each wedge gets maximum contact with the pan. Brown for 4-5 minutes.
3. Flip the cabbage wedges and brown for another 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the stove and turn the heat to low.
5. Wait a couple minutes for the pan to cool slightly, poor half the can of coconut milk into the pan, and add the curry paste. Mix the curry paste into the milk, but don't worry about getting all the chunks out because the cabbage takes up most of the pan. The curry paste will slowly melt/dissolve into the coconut milk.
6. Return the pan to the stove, and simmer, covered, over low heat for 20 minutes.
7. Flip the cabbage wedges and add the fish sauce and palm sugar. Simmer for another 20 minutes, covered.
8. Squeeze a little lemon over the cabbage and serve warm.