Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thai Spiced Cabbage

This recipe flirted with me tonight.

I was looking for something different as I flipped though The Complete Step by Step Cookbook, a book I have not looked at in a few years.

I looked at this recipe like someone who catches your eye while walking down the aisles of a store.

I flipped though a few pages and then came back to it. We gave each other a spicy smile but kept going about our way.

Arriving back on page 297 and we passed yet again, this time I swear it winked at me. I couldn't resist. Forget monogamy...errr...monotony. I gave in and tried something different.

Spiced Cabbage

The Complete Step by Step Cookbook

14 peppercorns
2 tablespoons coconut cream
2 shallots, chopped

4 oz lean pork, finely chopped

About 1 lb white cabbage, fineliy sliced

1 1/4 cups coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 fresh red chile, very finely chopped


In a wok, heat peppercorns about 3 minutes, until aroma changes.

Stir in coconut cream, heat 2-3 minutes, then stir in shallots.
Stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in pork and cabbage. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes.

Add coconut milk and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes.

Uncover and cook about 10 minutes until cabbage is crisp-tender. Stir in fish sauce. Sprinkle with chopped chile.

You'll notice their ingredient list doesn't include oil and neither do the instructions. They are presuming you are using a well seasoned wok. I didn't have any lean pork, so I substituted some partially crisped bacon. I had to choose between a fresh green jalapeno and dried red chiles, so I went with the red.

And after cooking this recipe, I know that the coconut cream can't be substituted in this dish. It's not just the flavor, it seems like it brought the oil that the shallots will need to saute.

The bacon and veggies started crisping up nicely before things went partially awry.

The flavor of the dish was impressive, in our opinion. The reduced coconut's sweetness was balanced out by the heat of the peppercorn and red pepper flakes.

But both of us thought the end result had a little too much liquid.

Two issues.

First, part of that is because in my SWAG measurement system, a head of cabbage is 2 lbs so half a head would give the 1lb needed for this recipe. In retrospect and after checking the receipt, this one was only 1.92 lbs and after halving it and removing the core, we probably had about .8 lbs of shredded cabbage.

Second, THEIR recipe said ABOUT 1 lb. The pictures of their wok in the book clearly show more like 1 1/2 lbs.

No big deal, it still delivered a creamy and pleasing taste. But to make it perfect, next time we both agreed we would EITHER add 1/2 lb of a Chinese cabbage like Napa OR cut the coconut milk to about 3/4 cup instead of 1 1/4 cup.

I look forward to trying this again with a few modifications.

So what recipe has recently flirted with you?
1) Tell me about a dish that you ordered/tasted that you normally wouldn't have. Or,
2) Show us your "scarlet letter", post a link to a recipe in your blog that tempted you and caused you to "stray" from monotony.