This Fall’s featured ingredient is cabbage.
Cabbage is a member of the Brassicaceae family. Cabbage, broccoli, collard greens, brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi are believed to all have evolved over thousands of years from the same wild field cabbage. Selection resulted in varieties having different accentuated characteristics, such as heads for cabbage, leaves for kale and flower buds for broccoli.
Cabbage was most likely domesticated in Europe before 1000BC, and became an affordable staple in European cuisine. Cabbage spread from Europe into Mesopotamia and Egypt, and later followed trade routes throughout Asia and the Americas. Sauerkraut, fermented or pickled cabbage, was used by Dutch sailors to prevent scurvy during long ship voyages. During the 16th century, German gardeners are said to have developed the savoy cabbage, featured in our Fall recipe below. 1
Cabbages usually range from 1 to 8 pounds, and can be green, purple or white. Some have smooth leaves, while others have a lacy texture, like savoy cabbage. In 2012, the world record was broken for heaviest cabbage in Palmer, Alaska at 138 pounds. 2
China is reported to be the world’s largest producer of cabbage, followed by India. Russians are estimated to eat the largest amount of cabbage in Europe, on average 44 pounds a year, while Americans eat an average of 9 pounds.
Cabbage is enjoyed in many ways. Pickling is the said to be the most popular, creating dishes such as German sauerkraut and Korean kimchee. It is also eaten raw, steamed, sauteed, braised, and stewed.
Cabbage is a good source of vitamins A, C, and fiber. As a cruciferous vegetable, it also contains glucosinolates, which research indicates reduce the risk of developing cancer, boosting DNA repair in cells and blocking the the growth of cancer cells. 3
This Fall’s recipe is for Savoy Cabbage Mu Shu Rolls.
This dish holds a great amount of nostalgia for me, as it was my favorite Chinese dish as a child. I would eat roll after roll with extra hoisin sauce. Reflecting now, it was the only time I ate cabbage in significant quantities growing up.
Time Saver: Substitute bagged pre-sliced cabbage based stir fry mix for vegetables below.
Savoy Cabbage Mu Shu Rolls
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 8-10 Rolls
1/2 head of savoy cabbage, julienned into strips
1/4 head of purple cabbage, julienned
1 basket of mushrooms, julienned
2 carrots, julienned
1 can water chestnuts, rinsed and julienned
1 tub medium to firm tofu, cut into cubes, or 1 drained can shredded green jackfruit
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons rice wine or seasoned rice vinegar
soy sauce to taste
hoisen sauce or favorite Asian sauce
8-10 mu shu wrappers, tortillas, crepes, butter lettuce leaves, or cabbage leaves
optional: garnish of peanuts, cashews, or toasted sesame seeds
fork or whisk
wok or large pan
1. Julienne vegetables. Mince garlic. Grate ginger.
2. Cut tofu into bite-sized cubes.
3. Heat small non-stick pan on medium heat. Brown tofu, flipping only after each side is browned, to prevent tofu breaking apart. If using shredded green jackfruit, dry saute until caramelized, deglazing pan as needed with a few drops of water.
4. Heat wok or large pan on medium heat. Dry saute vegetables until almost tender. Add browned tofu. Stir in rice wine/vinegar and soy sauce. Continue to cook until vegetables tender.
6. If using wrappers/tortillas/crepes, heat in pan. Place warm wrapper/leaf onto plate. Spoon 1-2 Tablespoons sauce onto wrapper/leaf. Spoon ~1 cup filling onto wrapper/leaf. Garnish with optional nuts if desired. If using wrappers, fold into open-ended “burritos.” Enjoy immediately.