Friday, March 7, 2008

Notorious Vegetable: Take 2

We tried cabbage again this week. This time it was a Chinese version from my favorite Chinese cookbook, using Napa Cabbage and dried Chinese Mushrooms. The dish was much more delicious than my slap-dash cabbage with pear, skillet rendition a few weeks ago. Still, the kids mostly just pushed it around on their plate. My dear daughter, who is always looking for a bright side, said "The mushrooms are pretty good." My husband and I loved it, though, which means another appearance and another check off the "offer a new food 11 times" rule are likely in the future. I wonder, do you have to present the nefarious food item (insert cabbage here) in the same way each time, or will any form of it do? For the record, no one but me likes coleslaw, the most "normal" cabbage dish I can think of, so that won't work as an entry point.

This recipe has several steps and must be started 1 hour or so before dinner. But it's a relatively easy, yet authentic, Chinese vegetable recipe.

Braised Cabbage and Mushrooms
adapted from Grace Young's The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen (p. 79)
Serves 4

12 Chinese dried Mushrooms
1/4 tsp. sugar
8-12 large leaves of Napa Cabbage (about 1 lb.)
1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil
2 slices ginger
3/4 cup Chicken Broth
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsps. sesame oil

1) Soak dried mushrooms and sugar in 3/4 cup cold water for 30 min. or until softened. Drain and reserve liquid. Remove stems and half or quarter mushrooms.

2) Wash the cabbage leaves and dry. Stack 2-3 leaves at a time and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch shreds.

3) Pre-heat a small saucepan and when hot but not smoking, add 1 teaspoon of oil and 1 slice of ginger; stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and stir-fry those for 1 minute. Add reserved mushroom liquid and 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Check occasionally to be sure there is enough liquid. Stir in oyster sauce.

4) When mushroom broth is nearly finished, prepare wok for stir-fry. Pre-heat wok over high heat, and when hot but not smoking, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 ginger slice. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add cabbage and stir-fry 1-2 minutes, until limp. Stir in salt, remaining 1/4 cup chicken broth, soy sauce and sesame oil. Reduce heat and cover, simmer for 5 minutes.

5) Transfer cabbage to a plate or bowl, with the pan juices. Pour mushrooms over the center of the cabbage and serve immediately.

Next week, it's time for brussel sprouts, also known as "baby cabbages." That cute name will surely be a big seller around here. Still it's ranked as one of the world's healthiest foods, so it might be worth a try or two.

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