I’ve simply given up on the lettuce, but now the abundance of napa cabbage means that it has basically become the new lettuce. (Hear that, trendsetters for ’08? Napa Cabbage is the New Lettuce!)
But then, just in time for the new year, when no napa cabbage should be left forlorn, I remembered an old recipe that I think will ensure that I’ll be eating as much of that long, tender, elegant cabbage as Eatwell can throw at me. Turning once again to my beloved Asian Vegetables cookbook, I dug out a recipe I haven’t made in years for halibut steamed in packets of napa cabbage. This was the kind of recipe that makes a lasting impression; four or five years later, my mouth can still recall perfectly the incredible taste of the dish. I don’t eat fish anymore, but the part of the dish that stands out so brightly in my memory wasn’t the halibut or even the cabbage, but rather the amazing sauce tucked in the packets alongside the fish. What I ended up with – sans halibut – was so good I went back for thirds. I have definitely found the Official Napa Cabbage Recipe of 2008. Cheers!
Napa Cabbage with Shitake Mushrooms,
Ginger Matchsticks, and Red Miso-Sake Sauce
– 1 head napa cabbage
– 10-12 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
– 2 inches ginger, cut into “matchstick” sized pieces
– 4 T. red miso
– 2 T. mirin (sweet rice cooking wine)
– 4 T. sake (or to taste)
– 2-3 T. sugar (or to taste)
– 1 T. water or broth (or to taste)
Slice napa cabbage across the head into pieces. Unfurl the pieces and place in a steamer basket. Squeeze excess water from mushrooms and slice into thin strips. Put mushrooms and ginger into basket with cabbage, tossing to mix. Steam for ten minutes.
To make the sauce: combine red miso, mirin, sake, sugar, and water, until you have a tasty, sweet, slightly boozy concoction that makes your mouth water with delight. Make sure it’s not too salty or strong from the miso – you can add a bit more water or broth, keeping in mind the sauce will get thinner and more unwieldy the more water you add.
And now for my exciting food-blog-geek news! For my holiday presents this year, Duck tricked me out with all kinds of treats that I’ve been yearning after as I put together In My Box. The gorgeous crackle-glaze bowl in the photos above is from a huge assortment of beautiful dishes he got for me to spice up my food plating, and the FREE-FLOATING PHOTOS (a first here and which you may notice I am A LITTLE EXCITED about) come courtesy of my incredible new D-Flector, a miraculous portable photo studio background thingamajiggy which allows me, at long last, to take pictures of my food floating in the pure mists of empty space. I’m still just barely learning how to use all my new toys (the pics above are a bit more pixelly than I’d like, for example) but I am terribly excited and predict much beautiful food to come, just so I can have the pleasure of taking pictures of it in the mist!