Cabbage Roll

Although we had lots of celebrations in the last few weeks, the festive season is not over yet. The Chinese New Year is coming on the way! I’ve been thinking what I can contribute for this big day, and this recipe came up to my mind: cabbage rolls!
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It seems like any region that can grow cabbage somehow uses the leaves to wrap something. The search online shows all kinds of cabbage rolls from Europe, Middle Eastern to Asia… How interesting to realize that people from different places and backgrounds use the same ingredients, even the same methods to cook the food, which can turn out to be totally different taste! The humble cabbage is often used to make stir-fried shredded cabbage in Chinese cuisine, while it’s turned into coleslaw and sauerkraut in western cuisines. It provides the most nutrients and antioxidants for the value of your money compared to other produce. It has the potential to be so much more, and it can be pretty fancy when we roll them!
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Let’s start with gently pulling off the cabbage leaves, boil them until tender, shave off the hard ribs and stuff the leaves with a combination of your preferable veggies and grains, layer them into a pan or casserole, pour a sauce over top, cover and simmer. For the filling, I combined some fresh veggies with steamed rice. For the sauce, I simply cooked the chopped tomatoes with sautéed onions and garlic. This dish is a winter delight, needs a little extra patience to make, hearty and delicious, absolutely an eye-catcher!
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INGREDIENTS

8 large cabbage leaves
1 medium sized onion, chopped
6 mushrooms, chopped
a handful peas
3 garlic cloves, chopped
a few sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
100g steamed rice
1 can chopped tomatoes (or 400g fresh tomatoes)
half tsp smoked cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, olive oil
fresh parsley for garnishing
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METHODS

1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil over high heat. Cook cabbage leaves for 10 minutes until soft. Drain and keep aside.

2. Put another small pot on medium heat. Add in oil, a spoonful onions and garlic, smoked cayenne pepper, sautéed until brown. Pour in the tomatoes, turn to low heat, simmer for 10 minutes. Mix in a blender until smooth, set aside.

3. Heat oil in a large pan, sautéed the rest of onions and garlic until fragrant. Add in the mushrooms, peas and sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the steamed rice in the pan, and 3 Tbsp tomato sauce, mix well.

4. Place the filling in the cabbage leaves and roll up to the shape you like. Assemble the cabbage rolls in a large pan or a casserole, pour in the sauce, put the lid on, let it simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle some fresh herbs to give a bit garnishing. Bon Appétit and Happy Chinese New Year folks!
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Homemade Sauerkraut

When the temperature doesn’t seem to be going down, let’s make good use of it. Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. It has rich source of probiotics which is great for our immune system and gut health. If you’re interested in adding some fermented fare into your diet, learning how to make sauerkraut is the perfect place to start.

Unlike most of the conventional pickled vegetables in the supermarkets, which often contain preservatives and artificial ingredients, this recipe is super simple and natural, doesn’t have any nasty ingredient, only cabbage and salt. Normal green cabbage is fine, but red cabbage is much more beautiful because of the color, and has ten times more vitamin A and twice as much iron as green cabbage. You can also put some grated garlic, sliced apple or chopped chili into the sauerkraut, to add more flavor. It doesn’t take too long to start the fermentation in summer, the whole process lasts only a few days. So, as soon as it reaches your desired flavor, stop the fermentation by moving it in the fridge. The sauerkraut can be kept in the fridge for several months. You can add it into salads, sandwiches, or as a side dish.

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INGREDIENTS
2 medium sized red cabbage, 1.5kg
2 tsp sea salt
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METHODS
1. Peel the outer leaves from the cabbage, rinse it in the water, cut into thin strips.
2. Prepare a large bowl, mix the cabbage and salt together. Use a thick stick, such as a rolling pin or pestle, to pound the cabbage, until they become softer and their juices are released.
3. Place cabbage(includes the liquid) into a jar or fermenting vessel. Use your fist to press in the cabbage tightly into the jar. The brine can more or less cover the cabbage.
4. Close the jar, put a plate under the jar, because the juice can be escaping during the bubbling fermentation. In summer, allow to ferment for 3 days, less if your kitchen is warm, more if cold. It’s better to keep it close in the first 3 days. After that, you can always open and taste, to decide if you want it keep fermenting, or stop fermenting by store it in the refrigerator.
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