Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Red Cabbage Stir-Fry with Coconut

Cabbage isn't something that I buy very often, but when it shows up in my CSA box, I'm more than happy to cook it and eat it. My first thoughts are usually of slaws and slow cooked dishes with sausage, but I'm always looking to try something something new and different.  Cabbage, particularly Napa, frequently makes its way into Asian dishes (or Americanized renditions of them) often, but this one is decidedly different than Moo Shu Pork or Chinese Chicken Salad. I've never thought of cabbage as part of Indian cuisine, but the suite of Indian flavors complement the cabbage wonderfully. The richness of the coconut tempers the spice of the chile, with the quintessentially Indian combination of mustard, cumin, curry leaves, turmeric, and garlic blooming into an irresistible aroma. Although it may sound a bit too out-of-the-ordinary on paper, this leap of faith will reward your taste buds handsomely and provide a bit burst of warmer climes in the depths of winter.

Red Cabbage Stir-Fry with Coconut
adapted from Food and Wine
serves 4

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
10 fresh curry leaves or 2 bay leaves
One 2-pound red cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped (8 cups)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 cup water
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 serrano or jalapeno chile, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup finely shredded dried coconut (1 1/2 ounces)

1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and cook over moderate heat just until they begin to pop, about 30 seconds. Add the cumin and curry leaves and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cabbage and turmeric and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the water and cook until the water is evaporated and the cabbage is tender, 5 to 6 minutes longer. Discard the bay leaves, if using.

2. Meanwhile, in a mini food processor, add the garlic, chile, coconut and remaining 1/4 cup of water and pulse to a paste.

3. Scrape the paste into the skillet and toss to coat the red cabbage. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Season with salt and serve.

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