Four hours to cook a small white cabbage? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. This works both as a stand-alone starter or as a side for meal. I like it as a deeply flavoured mid afternoon snack too, but then our snacks are usually a little unusual. It is a wintery dish, but don’t let that prevent you from cooking it in the cooler weather of other seasons.
This dish is an Ottolenghi dish, from his Guardian column. First published four years ago, he speaks of it often as an amazing example of the transformation of food during the process of cooking. It is something that always enthralled me, in fact it is the basis of my love of cooking. The way that an ingredient changes from one thing to another as a result of little
more than the application of time and heat, it really is magic. We take it for granted: we sweat an onion in oil, for example, and it changes from something that makes us cry to something that makes us smile with joy at its brilliantly warming sweetness. Each time we throw the acrid, dung-scented spice asafoetida into some oil, it changes to an earthy taste of garlic and onions. We pop mustard seeds in heated oil and they lose their hot intensiveness and become nutty.
And we braise cabbage for 4 hours for this remarkable result. It doesn’t look like a vegetarian dish, in fact it looks quite meaty. But vegetarian it is. It does need a strong dish to accompany it, or something very bland. I have been serving it just with a little plain rice, lemon and soured cream.
Miso Slow Braised Cabbage
1 small white cabbage, trimmed and cut into 5cm wide wedges
300ml unsalted vegetable stock
2 Tblspn brown miso paste
150g soured cream
1 lemon, quartered
Heat the oven to 200C.
Put the cabbage wedges in a small high-sided roasting tray or baking dish, so that they are packed closely together.
Pour the stock into a small saucepan with the miso paste and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Bring up to a boil, stirring constantly so the miso dissolves, then pour over the cabbage: it should come halfway up the sides of the pan.
Cover the pan tightly with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Turn down the heat to 150C, and cook for two hours more, turning the cabbage over halfway through. Remove the foil, baste the cabbage and cook for an hour and a half longer, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed and the cabbage is crisp and a deep golden-brown.
Serve the braised cabbage warm, with a dollop of soured cream alongside and a wedge of lemon, to squeeze over.
recipe notes and alternatives
Avoid using stock cubes, because they’ll make the dish too salty.
In my oven, it takes a little longer to get to this stage. Keep cooking until the liquid is absorbed.
You can use red cabbage too. Use a weaker miso broth – I used red miso dissolved in water for the dish below. Red cabbage has a stronger taste, so the broth needs to be weaker. You could also use a vegetable stock without miso. Additional salt is not needed if using miso. The resulting dish is not as buttery as white cabbage – red cabbage is stronger, tougher. But it is still a worthy side dish.
Roasted Red Cabbage was fashionable at one time, but I find the flavour too intense when it is roasted. The oven braised version is much nicer.