After days and days of reinterpreted turkey dishes, I was craving some veggies. Preferably of the spicy and pickled variety. I bought this napa cabbage from one of two Chinese vendors at the Zelony Bazaar (Green Market) last week. These vendors have changed my life. Not only did they have napa, they had bok choi. They even had fresh tofu that was still warm! Wood ear mushrooms (I think.....). Sweet potatoes! And I've heard rumors that if you get to them early enough you can find broccoli, too.
After washing the cabbage, I began by chopping the large head of napa cabbage into quarters, and then into 1 inch slices.
I grabbed some salt.
And measured out 1/2 cup. Don't let this scare you off. You are not going to be ingesting a lifetime supply of salt in one sitting.
The purpose is to evenly spread the salt, in layers, over the cabbage to pull the water out. So, I layered-- a little bit of salt, a little bit of cabbage, a little bit of salt, a little bit of cabbage, until I ran out of both.
Once you top off your bowl, let the salted cabbage sit for two hours. You'll see that the volume reduces by nearly half and there's a cup or two of released water in the bottom. Discard the water.
Now an important step: rinse the salt off the cabbage. Here in Dushanbe, we don't dare use the tap water, so I resorted to rinsing with bottled water about four times.
Now onto the yummy stuff. I consulted a few recipes, including this one here and adapted according to my taste and what I had on hand.
In a separate bowl, I mixed a bunch of chopped green onions, 2 T minced garlic, 1 T minced ginger, 1 T sugar, about 1/4 cup soy sauce and about 2 T red pepper flakes that I ground in the coffee grinder to a course grind. Then I poured that mixture into the wilted cabbage.
Then I mixed thoroughly and tried to wait to eat it.
Which didn't happen. I enjoyed this bowl immediately. And it was good.
But, later that day I whipped up one of these, exactly as the recipe stated, and it was delicious!
But perhaps not the best dinner to have before kickboxing class......