Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Wrap it Up

Posted: June 28, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Last week, I sent out a missive to the internets, wondering what on earth I should do with a massive head of napa cabbage I’d received from my CSA share. This week was a bit crazy, and I didn’t have a chance to actually sort out how to cook it or use it until yesterday. And what I came up with was a riff on lettuce wraps. If you’re not feeling up to eating the monster raw, take heart. I will be trying a whole bunch of other recipes soon to get this cabbage cooked before it goes bad. Kimchi anyone?
Cabbage Wraps

I used a mishmash of items from the fridge, and came up with something lovely and delicious. I would definitely recommend using the tender, inner leaves of your Napa cabbage, since the outer leaves can be somewhat tough. I would also recommend cutting out the central rib from the leaves, as this makes it easier both to roll AND to eat without spraying the filling all over your face.

Napa Cabbage Lettuce Wraps

1. Begin by breaking 1-2 handfuls of rice stick noodles in half, and putting them to soak in hot tap water.
2. Julienne 2 golfball-sized Japanese turnips, chop a few bundles of baby bok choy, and mince 2 cloves of garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over moderately high heat, and throw in the veggies. Season with salt, and saute until they’re starting to pick up some color.
Steps pt. 1

3. Throw in some diced cooked chicken (or shredded, or whatever) and stir around until the chicken is heated through. At that point, add the rice noodles into the pan, with some of the soaking water to make sure everything gets cooked. Add more salt if you need to at this point.
4. Make the sauce. Scoop 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (I used honey roasted, but any kind will work), and 1 teaspoon of red curry paste into a bowl. Whisk together as best you can, and then add a small drizzle of sesame oil. You just want it to thin out the sauce, and add a little depth. When the noodles are softened, add the whole mess in the skillet to the sauce and toss. The heat from the items formerly in the skillet will melt the sauce and help it coat everything. Now is the time to add an additional drizzle of sesame oil, more curry paste, or maybe some soy sauce, if you feel like it needs something.
5. Prepare the cabbage. Peel the leaves off, rinse them under cold water, dry them, and cut out the central ribs. Then, assemble your friends and loved ones, and start rolling!
Steps pt. 2

Cabbage wraps are tasty. There’s lots of green in this dish (as well as protein from the peanut butter and the chicken) and plenty of crunch. The warm filling plus the cool cabbage made a nice contrast, and tasted pretty fantastic.
The stove was on for a grand total of 15 minutes to make this dish, which feels like an instant AND a lifetime as the weather heats up and my kitchen remains windowless. But from those 15 minutes at the stove comes a lovely, crisp, cool-warm-crashing meal that you can cook for 2 or 10 with basically the same items.

And honestly, if I’d thought about it, I probably should have made it for 12 — much less cabbage left to work with that way!

One Comment on “Wrap it Up”

  1. 1 Emily said at 5:23 pm on June 28, 2010:

    That head of cabbage was scary, eh? And I only had half of it! I made kimchi from the Momofuku cookbook, throwing in some daikon as well. It was easy (with a food processor) and I’m sure it will be delicious! Two giant jars and no more monsterous heads o cabbage in the fridge.

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Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

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