Friday, September 25, 2020

Sauteed Cabbage with Southeast Asian Flavors


Cabbage is a very underrated vegetable and I think it should be appreciated much more. For me, it's a must have vegetable in my fridge and I use it in salads, soups and stir-fries. Besides being very nutritious, it's really delicious.  I think it gets a bad reputation from the time when people boiled it as the way of cooking it can definitely bring out a distinct sulfurous smell, as is the case with many of the Cruciferous vegetables. But cooked lightly and quickly, Cabbage is delightful! My usual favorite way to cook it is to sauté it quickly. I usually season it with a bit of Tamari, Rice Vinegar and Sugar to make a lightly Sweet and Sour Chinese version. But, last night I used Southeast Asian flavors instead and I loved it! I used some Fish Sauce, Tamari and a squeeze of Lime to finish it off. I also added some Green Onions and it was so good!  Now, I will admit that Fish Sauce has a fragrance that is a little off-putting when it hits a hot pan but it fades quickly. But, the wonderful Umami flavor is worth it. This dish is going to become part of my Cabbage repertoire from now on!

Sauteed Cabbage with Southeast Asian Flavors

1/2 head of Green Cabbage cut into about 1" pieces

4 - 5 Green Onions, ends trimmed and cut into small pieces

2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (I use Safflower)

2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce

2 Tablespoon Tamari

pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper

Juice of one small or 1/2 of a large Lime

Heat the Oil in a wok or frying pan. Add in the Green Onions and Cabbage and stir until the Cabbage softens and the edges just start to brown.  Add in the Fish Sauce, Tamari and Pepper.  Stir to combine. Take off the heat and add the Lime Juice. 

Five Element Analysis

Cabbage belongs to the Earth Element as it has a sweet flavor when cooked, but because it also has some pungency, contributes a little Metal too. The Tamari and Fish Sauce, both being quite salty, add in the Water Element. The Lime Juice brings in just a hint of the Wood Element and the Pepper makes sure that the Fire Element is present. While this isn't intended to be a completely balanced dish, it does have some of all the Elements, but is especially good when added to a meal that needs more Earth. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Mango Jelly with Coconut Milk

In these strange times of lockdown, a lot of people are craving comfort foods from their childhood.  I recently decided to remake one of my old favorites - Jello with Milk. My family wasn't big on desserts and this is one of the few things that my Father made for us, so there are some happy memories associated with it. And, the other reason I made it is that I realized that my Father died 40 years ago on September 13th, so I made this new version in his honor. 

I've long avoided my formerly loved Red Jello because of my reaction to food coloring and as an adult, I definitely developed a lactose intolerance. So this new version uses natural Gelatin, from either Beef or Pork, or you can use Agar Agar for a vegan option. And, I made the Jelly with Mango Juice and substituted lightly sweetened Coconut Milk. You can make the Coconut Milk as sweet as you like and you can sweeten the juice if you like too. I used superfine Sugar as it dissolves easier and this can easily be made by pulsing regular sugar in a food processor for a bit. If you use regular sugar, you may want to heat the Coconut Milk to help the Sugar dissolve, but be sure to cool it before serving. This recipe can also be adapted using all different kinds of juice. I was going for the tropical flavors and I happened to have Mango Juice in my fridge.  I have to admit that I still absolutely love this dessert!  I miss my Father to this day, but I have so many good memories. Like Proust and his Madeleines, this is one of my good food memories, all grown up!

Mango Jelly with Coconut Milk

2 cups Mango Juice

1 Tablespoon Gelatin (I used Pork Gelatin)

1 can of Coconut Milk

1 - 3 Tablespoons Sugar (superfine if possible)

Take 1/2 cup of Mango Juice and sprinkle in the Gelatin, whisking to combine. Let it bloom for 5 minutes and it will end up looking somewhat curdled. 

In the meantime, Place the remaining 1 1/2 cups of Mango in a small pan and heat until just before it starts to boil. Pour in the bloomed Gelatin and stir to combine. Pour into a small square or rectangular pan, cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. 

When ready to serve, open the Coconut Milk (and Cream on top) and pour it into a bowl. Whisk in the Sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time, tasting with each addition, and stir until it is dissolved. Or if using regular Sugar, heat until the Sugar is dissolved and then cool before serving. 

Unmold the Gelatin and cut into cubes. Pour Coconut Milk into 3 - 4 small bowls and add the Mango Cubes on top.

Five Element Analysis

Even though this dessert is not that sweet, it is very Earthy as tropical fruits, both the Mango and the Coconut belong to the Earth Element. However, there is a bit of the Metal Element in Coconuts as well as Coconut Milk is white and Gelatin involves cartilage, which is part of the Wood Element. If you use Agar Agar, you have added the Metal Element. This is clearly not a balanced dish by itself, but adds some Earth to whatever meal you serve it with.