Tag Archives: cabbage

Thai Stir-Fried Cabbage

30 Jan

thai stir-fried cabbage

I’m back in Buenos Aires now, getting settled into a new place. The apartment is twice as big as the last two we’ve stayed in – still a studio apartment, but now there’s a couch! And the kitchen is much nicer, with a lovely gas stove and oven, a full-sized refrigerator, and ample counter space. It’s hard, though, to ramp back up with cooking, but I’ve learned to start off with simple dishes. Luckily, we’re near a great market with lots of fruit and vegetables vendors. And of course, I’m still carting spices around with me and (embarrassingly) some sauces, too… Asian sauces in particular (soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce) can be hard to find and expensive, so it made sense to take them to/from Montevideo (I think).

Anyway, on my first trip to the market, I just grabbed a couple of basic vegetables, including one of my favorites – cabbage. Not a lot of people are enthusiastic about cabbage, I know, but I love it. In salads, soups, or stir fries like this. When I came across this Thai recipe, I knew it couldn’t go wrong, but I wasn’t prepared for how flavorful such a simple dish could be. It could easily be a side dish to a Thai curry or a little midday snack, but served over rice (or quinoa, as I did) with chopped fresh vegetables (like the cucumber and tomatoes shown here) and, of course, nam pla prik on hand to add to taste, it makes for a surprisingly satisfying meal.

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Roasted Cabbage with Soy-Glazed Shiitake Mushrooms

21 Dec

roasted cabbage with soy-glazed mushrooms

The past three months in Buenos Aires have been an exciting time for me – getting adjusted to a new city, learning Spanish, and settling into a new food routine (an amazing verduleria down the street for fresh, great quality vegetables when I feel like cooking and a cheap empanada place for when I don’t). But I’m taking a little break now from Argentina to check out Montevideo for a month. As I was preparing to leave, one of the main things I focused on was cleaning out my kitchen, and this recipe was great for the half head of cabbage rolling around in my refrigerator and the dried shiitake mushrooms sitting in the back of my cabinet. I’m already a big cabbage fan, but roasting cabbage just might be my new favorite preparation. As with most vegetables, roasting draws out the natural sweetness of cabbage and makes it easy to eat a lot of without even thinking about how healthy it is. I brushed the cabbage with sesame oil to pair with the Asian flavors of the shiitake mushrooms which are cooked in their soaking water along with soy sauce and sugar, boiling down to a flavor-packed glaze. Not a bad way to use up the last of some basics on my kitchen – now it’s time for me to start stocking up my new place.

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Homemade Kimchi

19 Nov

homemade kimchi

One of my best friends in middle school was Korean, and I remember fondly much of our time spent together after school. We would take the school bus to her house, and there was always perfectly cooked rice waiting in the rice cooker, sheets of seaweed to wrap it in, and delicious homemade kimchi. At the time, I wasn’t even a fan of standard pickles, and kimchi, with its fermented odor and strangely bright red, nearly unrecognizable vegetables, seemed quite intimidating when my friend first offered it to me. But I knew it was rude to refuse, so I tried it. And somehow I was quickly taken in by the bold flavors, a mix of sour, spicy, and even a little sweet that made plain rice into a treat.

I’ve eaten a lot of kimchi since then, and these days, it’s hard for me to resist, whether it’s a side to Korean barbecue, flavoring ramen, or in an omelet. I tried my hand at making my own before, but the flavor wasn’t quite right. Now that I’m in Buenos Aires, where there seems to be a dearth of good Asian food (and certainly a dearth of spicy food), I figured it was worth another shot. I compared several recipes and techniques and tried to keep things simple but authentic with my take. The only specialty ingredients here are the Korean red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru) (which I actually carted along with me from the U.S.) and fish sauce; both shouldn’t be hard to find in an Asian market (and the gochugaru can be replaced, if necessary). As I was chopping the cabbage (feeling pleasantly surprised at having been able to find Napa cabbage at my neighborhood verduleria), I started to worry that this would make too much kimchi. And even after it reduced dramatically from the initial salting, I was still concerned. But as I packed the ready-to-ferment kimchi into its large jar, I tasted a piece, and suddenly I wondered if maybe I hadn’t made enough. The fermentation only adds more complexity and the characteristic tang to the kimchi (oh, and some great health benefits, too), and I can easily say now that I’m quite happy with this recipe. I’ve been snacking on it plain, drizzled with a little sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds, and loving it.

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Fall Salad with Butternut Squash, Apples, and Blue Cheese

16 Nov

fall salad with butternut squash apples and blue cheese

I’m starting to miss fall. Winter, I don’t mind skipping – bitter cold and biting wind, all the color sucked out of everything, and root vegetables and leafy greens the only thing in season (and even those shipped from milder climates further south). But fall is pleasantly cool with gorgeously tinted leaves and matching squashes of various shapes and sizes, driving an hour or two to taste crisp apples straight from the tree, and cinnamon-scented everything. I’ve been craving seasonal fall dishes. So I decided, despite the rising temperatures here, to put together this fall salad. Everything was easily available here (except for the radicchio called for in the original recipe which I chose to replace with red cabbage, for color, and arugula, for bite), and the end result has a great mix of flavors and textures. Butternut squash roasted with brown sugar for extra sweetness and ancho chile powder for spice, as well as sweetness from a honey garlic vinaigrette and apple slices, but all balanced by spicy arugula and crisp cabbage, the crunch of pepitas, and the funkiness of blue cheese. Not quite your typical fall salad, but a great remedy for my homesick self.

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Taco Salad

12 Nov

taco salad

Have I mentioned that it’s spring here in Buenos Aires? I’ve always preferred warmer weather, but it’s been a little weird seeing November on the calendar while going through a heatwave – temperatures were up to the mid-90s recently! (That’s Fahrenheit, of course; I still haven’t made the adjustment over to Celsius.) Given the weather, I’ve been eating a lot of salads, but in true Argentine fashion, I just can’t help topping them with meat (like my Thai steak salad) – it’s cheap and good quality here and adds extra protein to the meal. I think this recipe for taco salad could be easily adapted to be vegetarian, however, by omitting the ground beef and adding more beans (a mixture of black and pinto beans would be my suggestion). With or without the beef, this is a salad worth making. With a base of lettuce and cabbage (dressed with a simple red wine vinaigrette), it’s definitely a healthier alternative to the nachos and tacos it resembles, but it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out, especially when you pile on the toppings.

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Thai Steak Salad

7 Nov

thai steak salad

Recently, I was craving Thai food. Not being so lucky here as I was in DC (where two of the best Thai restaurants in the city were within mere blocks of me), I made the 3-mile trek to what is supposedly one of the best Thai restaurant in Buenos Aires. I was unfortunately disappointed with the food I was served – laab gai with more onions than chicken and a red curry that simply tasted sweet rather than complex and spicy. Still yearning for some good Thai food, I turned to my own kitchen and cooked up this Thai steak salad. Surprisingly simple to make, the real key to this salad is the dressing, packed with flavor from fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, chiles, and sugar. The salad itself is extra colorful and flavorful from a mixture of different vegetables, including raw cabbage, one of my salad favorites (I used red cabbage, but any variety should work just fine). Fresh herbs, sliced scallions, and peanuts add even more variety of texture and flavor. And strips of medium-rare steak on top, of course, pull the whole thing together.

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Mushroom Apple Gouda Hash

17 Sep

mushroom apple gouda hash

Apples are starting to crop up at the farmers markets and grocery stores now that we’re transitioning into fall, in gorgeous shades of mottled reds, yellows, and greens. Since I’ll be missing out on fall (as it is currently spring in Buenos Aires and my move is fast approaching), I wanted to take advantage of these apples while I still can. This great simple hash recipe contrasts crisp diced apples (I used tart apples but sweet ones should also work, if that’s your preference) with sauteed cabbage and mushrooms while gouda cheese also plays an important role, adding richness to the dish. The mix of textures feels perfect for the transitional nature of the season. This hash can be served as a side, as a main dish, or inside a sandwich or wrap.

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Colorful Mediterranean Salad with Hummus and Harissa

31 Aug

colorful mediterranean salad with hummus and harissa

Recently, I found my stomach rumbling in the middle of the afternoon after having accidentally skipped lunch. I was finishing up an errand and needed food fast, so I stopped by the newly opened location of a local chain that serves Mediterranean food assembly line style. I wanted to eat something healthy (one of my main motivations for cooking) so I ordered a salad. It was amazing – large enough to fill me up (often not the case with salads) and with great variety and flavor. The best part? The inclusion of harissa and hummus as toppings! I’ve been adding them to my salads ever since, and the extra flavor and creaminess they add is unbeatable. It inspired me to later throw together this quick recreation, chock full of healthy and tasty ingredients, including multiple different greens, red cabbage, tomato, and cucumber. Easily customizable with whatever fresh vegetables you might have around (and even better topped with lamb, chicken, or beans), this recipe is definitely worth trying out.

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Family Style Summer Salad

8 Aug

family style summer salad

Food, I believe, is meant to be shared. Sitting down with family or friends (or ideally both!) over a good meal, home-cooked or otherwise, always fills me with a great feeling of joy and belonging, often reinforced by enthusiastic anecdotes, spirited debates, and unbridled laughter before the end of the meal. This recipe combines my love of good company with my recent love of salads. Perfect for a midsummer get-together, this salad can be thrown together in mere minutes and is easily adapted to the tastes of whoever you happen to be eating with. Use fresh seasonal vegetables from your garden or farmers market, add chicken or steak for extra protein, or make it interactive by inviting everyone to bring their favorite ingredients. By the end of the meal, I hope you’ll feel that lovely glow of an evening well spent.

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Korean Cold Noodles and Vegetables

18 Jul

korean cold noodles and vegetables

I haven’t even finished posting recipes for food I cooked during the last heatwave, and DC is already in the grip of a new one. Yesterday, it reached 100 degrees for the sixth time this year, and we may very well have the seventh time today. This, after only having five 100-degree days in 2011 and four in 2010 – and 17 total in the entirety of 1993 to 2009. Weather, like food, is something I feel passionately nerdy about. And they go all so well together. Even in this time of air conditioning, I find myself gravitating towards weather-appropriate recipes. Although this recipe does involve using (a single burner on) the stove for the noodles, these refreshing cold noodles and vegetables, tossed in an amazingly flavorful sauce is another perfect dish for hot days. And in addition to being delicious, this plate packs a powerful visual punch. The vegetables are easily adaptable to whatever you happen to have around, and you can even omit the noodles, if you want – I had a simple meal of broccoli in this sauce one night, and it was still delicious. The original recipe calls for the Korean herb perilla, but I wasn’t able to find any (and admittedly, in this heat, I didn’t feel like exerting myself much in searching), and it was just fine without it. If you can find it, feel free to add it in. Hopefully, this recipe can help you stay nice and cool, however you decide to adapt it.

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