Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cabbage patch

I should like cabbage. I’m part-German, part-Ukrainian. I should love cabbage. But I don’t. I associate cabbage with sauerkraut, cabbage rolls and kimchi, dishes I’ve never actually tasted because of the olfactory similarities to hot garbage.

Recently, though, I’ve started to realize that maybe it’s not the cabbage itself that’s the issue. Don’t hate the vegetable, hate the method. So, when half a head of Napa cabbage appeared in our fridge one day, I gave it a tentative sniff and decided to give it a shot.
I always assumed Napa cabbage was an American cabbage (as in Napa, California), but Google tells me it’s actually Chinese in origin, which makes it a natural pairing for the flavours of sesame, red pepper and soy-marinated beef. The original recipe calls for cucumbers, but I’m not a fan of those either, so I added some sliced avocado, fresh mandarin orange segments, thinly sliced peppers and chopped scallions to give it some more personality.

Asian Steak Salad with Napa Cabbage (adapted from Everyday Food)
Serves 2

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, crushed through a press
250 grams striploin steak
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 head Napa cabbage (1 pound), thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup cashews, coarsely chopped and toasted

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, vinegar, oils, red-pepper flakes, and garlic.

Place steak in a shallow bowl and add half the mixture (reserve the rest for dressing) along with the soy sauce and marinate for 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge.

Heat a couple of teaspoon canola or grapeseed oil a shallow pan on medium high heat.

Lift steak from marinade and fry for about three minutes each side. Let rest 5 minutes, then slice thinly across the grain.

In a large bowl, toss cabbage with dressing and whatever other toppings you desire. Top with steak slices and cashews and serve.

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