This week we got a beautiful red-veined kale, fennel, lettuce, scallions, and Napa cabbage. I haven't tackled the kale yet but I'm thinking about a kale and mini-meatball soup (thanks to Kate for the inspiration). The fennel and lettuce went into hubby's lunch salads, along with lemony sorrel from the garden and goat cheese with macerated strawberries (thanks Paula). Scallions are everywhere in my cooking so they'll get used up over the course of the week.
As for the cabbage, I buy that frequently anyway and so was thrilled to get a beautiful, big ole Napa cabbage this week. I usually end up using half of it in Korean cabbage salad (see below); the rest gets shredded and put into Asian-style soups, lo mein, or fried rice. For a really fast soup, make some anchovy stock, add shredded or finely sliced Napa cabbage, and sliced fresh mushrooms (or dried ones, after soaking them in hot water). If you have some frozen dumplings, add those too. Instant dinner!
If you like to define cole slaw as a cabbage salad, then here are three different slaw recipes. They are very flexible and you will see that you can omit some ingredients, if you don't happen to have them on hand, and still have a tasty dish. All three can be made ahead of time, and while there's a fair bit of chopping and slicing involved, no heating is necessary - great for hot summer days (if only we would have some of those...).
We eat the Korean cabbage salad as a side dish in bibim bap, or with Korean barbeque (and sometimes with rice for breakfast). The Thai-style slaw is based on a green papaya salad and is great with Thai-style grilled chicken, which I'll get around to posting one day, or other grilled meats. Leftovers are really tasty eaten as a sort of salsa, with tortilla chips. Finally, the Citrus Cucumber relish is meant to be used as a condiment in fish tacos - a quick, easy summer meal that won't heat up your kitchen, especially if you grill the fish.
Napa Cabbage Salad
Adapted from Korean Cuisine by Young Sook Choi
1 lb Napa cabbage
¾ cup sliced Chinese chives (I think they are also called garlic chives)
½ teaspoon minced garlic clove
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon minced ginger root
2 tablespoons Korean red pepper powder
1 tablespoon Korean anchovy sauce (Thai fish sauce is a good substitute)
¾ tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Toasted sesame seeds
1. Wash and drain the cabbage. Cut or tear cabbage leaves lengthwise into two or three strips. [Note: I usually cut the pieces smaller than that, for easier eating].
2. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the cabbage and mix well to coat. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and eat!
Thai-Style Slaw with Chilies and Lime
Adapted from "Real Thai," by Nancie McDermott
6 fresh kii noo chilies, sliced, or 2 fresh serrano chilies thinly sliced, or any amount of fresh or dried hot chilies that you prefer
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
about 3 cups finely sliced or shredded Napa cabbage
9 green beans, end trimmed and cut into 2-inch peices
1 teaspoon palm sugar or sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 lime, quartered lengthwise
7 cherry tomatoes, quartered lengthwise (or ~1/2 cup red bell pepper, cut into thin slivers)
fresh cilantro leaves, as desired
1. On a cutting board, mince the garlic together with the salt, using the flat side of the knife to bash them together into a paste. Transfer the garlic to a large bowl and add the sugar and fish sauce and stir, Squeeze the juice from the lime into the bowl and stir, reserving the lime rinds.
2. Add the chilies, cabbage, green beans and tomatoes (or red bell pepper) and mix well. Add fresh cilantro, chopped, as desired or garnish with whole cilantro leaves. If desired, slice the squeezed lime thinly and add it to the bowl. Taste the "juice" in the bottom of the bowl and add salt, sugar, lime juice, or chilies as desired to balance the sweet, salty, sour and hot flavors to your liking.
Citrus Cucumber Relish
Adapted from "Mesa Mexicana," by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feninger
3 small "pickling" cucumbers, or 1 regular cucumber, ends trimmed and peeled
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
3 Roma tomatoes, cored and sliced into strips (or ~1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise)
1 cup shredded white cabbage (any cabbage will work, but since this post is about Napa, you should use Napa)
1-2 serrano or other chilies, stemmed, seeded if desired (to make the relish less spicy) and finely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tabelspoons grapefruit juice (optional, though it's great if you have it)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1. Cut the cucumbers into thin slices, then into fine julienne strips. Place in a bowl and add the other ingredients. Mix well and let stand for 30 minutes or longer. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
To make fish or seafood tacos, grill, broil or bake fish or seafood (Mary Sue and Susan recommend lobster, crab, shrimp or salmon; I generally use a white fish like Tilapia or cod). Warm up small corn tortillas by wrapping in foil and placing in an oven set to 300 F. On each tortilla, place a small piece of lettuce, a bit of the fish or seafood, and ~ 2 tablespoons of the cucumber relish. Add any (or all) of the following: sliced ripe avocado, sour cream, sweet green peas, sliced radish, cilantro leaves, a squeeze of lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil. These are messy to eat but oh so good!