Children cringe; memories of warm coleslaw, briny sauerkraut, and diet soup quickly turn this vegetable boring.
However, cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables. While lately, other cruciferous vegetables, (brussels sprouts and cauliflower, anyone?) have been revived, lonesome cabbage still sits there, just waiting to be a star.
There are a few tricks with cabbage to make it more, palatable, though. First, you never want to overcook it. As with all crucifers, the sulfurous, yucky smell will release as the vegetable breaks down, noses will be turned… it’s just not appetizing. Secondly, cabbage is a great blank slate. As in kimchi and sauerkraut, cabbage nearly always benefits from a meaty highlight. Whether it be with bulgogi or corned beef, both elements help round out the overall flavor profile. If you’re vegetarian? Peanuts make a great pairing, as do whole spices (mustard seeds, peppercorns).
One of my new favorite ways to cook cabbage is with Lap Xuong (Chinese: Lap Cheong), a Vietnamese/Chinese cured sweet pork sausage. Beautifully dotted with pork fat, a gorgeously warm red flavor – it’s the candy bacon of Asia.
Now, Lap Xuong is by no means healthy for you, the trick is to use it to season the cabbage. Just a little bit will do – I only used 1/2 a whole sausage for a whole cabbage! I also found a pork and chicken mixed Lap Xuong sausage, so it has less saturated fat. Please enjoy the recipe that follows for lunar new year, as a side dish, or a healthy meal alongside a bowl of brown rice.
Stir Fried Cabbage with Lap Xuong
1 Medium head cabbage, sliced thinly
1/2 medium carrot, cut in rings or strips
1/2 Lap Xuong sausage (find it at your local Asian store), cubed very small
1 Tbs fish sauce (can sub salt or soy sauce, to taste)
- Heat a wok or large sauté pan over medium heat.
- Add the cubed lap xuong and sliced carrots. No need to oil here! The Lap Xuong will render its fat to oil for you.
- Let the lap xuong and carrots brown for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the sliced cabbage, and toss to combine. Allow to cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until cabbage is tender. Do not overcook!
- Season with fish sauce and pepper.
- Turn off the heat, toss again, and taste to adjust seasoning. Serve hot with a bowl of rice, by itself, or as a side dish. Enjoy!
Rendering the fat.