Egg Rolls!

*Or, “The most ridiculously elaborate use we could think of for green cabbage”

I should specify that the elaborateness isn’t actually cabbage-related. The cabbage part is really pretty simple both in terms of prep and the role it plays. It is blanched and it provides the internal crunch. It is the supporting players in an egg roll that make the magic. But before we get to said magic let’s back up and consider the egg roll for a moment. I think we all know, or at least suspect, that egg rolls are merely Chinese-esque, or possibly Chinese-ish, at best. Chinese-inspired, if you will. Go looking for an egg roll in Beijing and tell me how it goes. If anything, you are apparently more likely to find something that resembles a spring roll.

A little research shows that egg rolls in recognizable form showed up American cities in the late 1930s when Chinese-American restaurateurs were developing menus that felt Chinese, but that Americans would find palatable. Those egg rolls included roast pork, shrimp, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, green onions and some seasonings. No cabbage. Today, you are more likely to find egg rolls with lots of cabbage, a little pork, some carrot, and maybe even mushroom if the chef is feeling frisky. I don’t eat them that often, because though the ingredients are pretty consistent in just about every restaurant and freezer case in America, the quality ranges from the sublime to the absolute suck. I’ve had enough of the latter over the years to make me favor other appetizers and sides, so I had forgotten that they include cabbage at all. And I am looking for uses for cabbage. Continue reading

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Green Cabbage and Newton’s Third Law of Motion

*Or: “To every cabbage ingested there is an equal and opposite sausage intake”

Tonight was a weird night from a culinary standpoint. I had just picked up the latest Box of Wonders, and found dandelion greens and kale inside. I am still working through last week’s kale and I had an entire green cabbage staring at me accusingly from the “fresh” drawer in the refrigerator. So many greens. Something had to give. My buddies over at America’s Test Kitchen had a few things to say about cabbage preparation, so I decided to dispatch the cabbage this evening, for better or worse. They had two recipes, one for roasting cabbage and one for grilling it. I looked out the window at the five inches of snow on top of the grill and decided I would try both seasonings, one on each half, and roast it all. Why not.

And while we’re on the subject, if you haven’t checked out America’s Test Kitchen, get there. Watch the show, read the magazine, get the book. Christopher Kimball et al will show you how to not screw up any and every recipe. I actually saw him at my produce market a few months ago and I almost fainted. I was following him at a discrete distance to try and confirm it was him when I saw a woman turn to her husband and start pointing wildly. I ran up  to her and squeaked, “It’s him isn’t it?!” She grabbed me by the shoulders and yelled, “It totally is!” And we proceeded to flip out like two 14-year-old girls at a Justin Bieber concert, while her husband and son looked incredulously on and Christopher Kimball walked to the parking lot, none the wiser (Thank goodness. I don’t need a restraining order on my permanent record).

The Man

The Man

Anyway, back to the cabbage. Continue reading