HOT AND SOUR CABBAGE
The Shun Lee Cookbook by Michael Tong
This crisp Shanghainese Pickled salad, with its mix of hot, sour, and sweet flavors, makes a perfect side dish to rich foods like Braised Duck with Vegetables or Hangzhou Braised Pork. The Shanghainese do not like very spicy foods, so although this has hot peppers and Sichuan peppercorns, the result is gently spicy, not fiery. The cabbage retains its crispness for up to a week if kept refrigerated, which is especially helpful because this recipe makes a large batch.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
• One 2-pound head Napa cabbage
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 8 small dried hot red chilies
• 25 Sichuan peppercorns
• Dash of dark sesame oil
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup distilled white vinegar
• 1 tablespoon hot chill oil
• 1/4 carrot, peeled and cut into thin 2-inch-long strips
• One 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into thin 2-inch-long strips
1. Cut the leafy top from the cabbage where it meets the thick stem. Reserve the tops for another use. Cut the stems into strips about 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
2. Place the cabbage strips in a large pan. Dissolve the salt in 1 cup of water, and pour over the cabbage. Place another pan of the same size, or slightly smaller, on top of the cabbage. Add several weights (such as a frying pan or canned goods) on top of the second pan to weight it down, helping to squeeze out as much water as possible from the cabbage. Set aside for 1 to 2 hours, until the cabbage is crisp and has given off a lot of water. Remove the weights and the top pan, and drain the cabbage. In batches, transfer the cabbage to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out the excess moisture. The cabbage should be quite dry, so that it will stay crisp. Place the cabbage in a plastic storage container.
3. Heat a large wok over high heat. Add the oil, dried chilies, and peppercorns, and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Add the sesame oil, and then immediately pour the mixture through a wire strainer into a small heatproof bowl. Discard the peppers and peppercorns, and pour the seasoned oil over the cabbage. Clean and dry the wok.
4. Place the wok over low heat, and add the sugar and vinegar. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Pour over the cabbage, and add the chili oil. Sprinkle the carrot and ginger over the cabbage. Cool the cabbage mixture to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled. (The salad can be stored, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.)