Aside, perhaps, from the Peerless Potato and the Omnipresent Onion, no vegetable can claim to be a feature of more and more-varied cuisines than the Clever Cabbage! From Korea to Krakow, the Cabbage is central to a cornucopia of exciting mains and side dishes.
Family Portrait: The Cabbage Clan. (Clockwise, from left: Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage,
Red Cabbage, Broccoli, Green Cabbage. Absent: Bokchoi, Brussels Sprouts,
Collard Greens, Kale, Kohlrabi, and various more-distant relations.)
In the beginning…
All tribes of the mighty Cabbage family have the same roots (literally and figuratively), wearing, as it were the tartan of the Brassicaceae (Mustard) Clan. That’s right; Mustard. But it doesn’t end there! Distant relations from the Outer Hebrides of the Cabbage Kingdom (to carry on the venerable auld Scottish metaphor) include Radishes (the familiar Red Garden variety as well as Diakon, Wasabi and Horseradish), Arugula and Radicchio, and even Canola (known before the PC era as “Rapeseed”).
Also known as the Cruciferous or Cruciform vegetables, all these plants share the same basic flower structure – four petals forming a cross – as well as most of the same DNA.
We use the seeds of some, the leaves of many, the roots of one select group, and the florets of a choice few others. No other vegetable has proven itself more versatile or widespread than the Cabbage!
Cabbage signature dishes from around the world include…
Corned Beef and Cabbage and Colcannon (sautéed Cabbage and Mashed Potatoes) are both icons of Irish cuisine.
Boiled Beef and Cabbage (Bubble and Squeak) is the English analogue to those Irish specialties.
Braised Cabbage is an Eastern European favourite, along with Sauteed Red Cabbage (Germany & Austria).
In France and the UK (and elsewhere in the British Commonwealth), they love their Brussels Sprouts both braised and steamed.
And, while we’re in Eastern Europe, let’s not forget Cabbage Rolls, Sauerkraut and Cabbage Salad (Cole Slaw).
We start in Eastern Europe and move East from there, through Asia, where almost every culture has it’s own distinctive spin on Cabbage Soup.
Asian Stir Fries almost always include some fresh, crispy Bokchoi.
Kimchi is considered the National Dish of Korea. It’s usually made from relatively large chunks of various Asian Cabbages which are traditionally pickled for weeks or months with Vinegar, Hot Peppers and other Spices, in earthenware jars. Buried in the ground. No kidding.
In Africa, Cabbage finds its way into a plethora of Soups and Vegetable Stews, which are regional staples.
Grilled Radicchio, Arugula and Bokchoi are staples of both California Nouvelle and Ancient Chinese cuisine.
Literally, a world of Cabbage!
The Cabbage is literally a “World Vegetable”. We’ll be exploring many an exotic cabbage dish down the line, right here on Maggie J’s Fab Food Blog!
~ Maggie J.