You got to hear about delicious paczki earlier in the week, but now, we must return to day to day eating in Kazakhstan. I do not come from cabbage eating families. My mother-in-law makes some pretty delicious coleslaw, but that’s about the extent of my cabbage consumption. As it is one of the cheaper and readily available fresh vegetables here in Kazakhstan, I feel like I should make the effort to get to know it better.
How does one pick a good head of cabbage? I’m still not sure—it doesn’t have brown spots? I figured it didn’t matter much since I wouldn’t know the difference. I looked at the mounded green heads (we have the purple variety too), picked one that looked like a reasonable size, had it weighed for me (all produce gets weighed, labeled, and sealed by a produce helper – yes, there is a person in all supermarkets doing only this job. I guess it saves time at the register, but feels a bit bothersome if you are getting more than three things weighed.), paid for it, and hauled it home. I glanced at the label to see just how big this stupid cabbage was and how much I paid for it. It was 6 pounds. SIX POUNDS of cabbage. All for less than $2. Ridiculous. What am I going to do with that much cabbage? And how am I going to even cut through this monstrosity??? Time to really sharpen the big knife!
Thank goodness for the internet. It is quite easy to find cabbage recipes after a quick search. The problem I’ve encountered is that many of the ingredients required to make the yummier looking options are harder to find here. I have to compromise one way or another. Last week, I found a recipe for Un-Stuffed Cabbage, which was the stuffing for Stuffed Cabbage but with blanched chopped cabbage added to it instead of wrapping it. It essentially tasted like my Stuffed Peppers. It was ok, but it lasted an entire week, which is just too much cabbage for two people. It still left me with two-thirds of a dense head of cabbage.
I hate wasting food even though I sometimes do. I was worried the remaining chunk of cabbage was going to go bad, so I returned to the internet to find things I could make with the ingredients I had on hand. I opted for Cabbage Soup, Spicy Cabbage, and Coleslaw. I winged the Coleslaw since I can make pretty good salad dressing without a recipe and that is essentially the dressing for Coleslaw but with sugar. The Spicy Cabbage was ok. It is supposed to get sautéed in oil on high heat, but our stove just doesn’t seem to get there, of if it does, it’s after 20 minutes of waiting. After the oil comes pepper paste (or hot sauce like I used) and soy sauce. It was an ok, definitely a side dish though in need of an exciting entree to go with it. The Cabbage Soup, while totally boring and unattractive to the eye (see cover photo), was surprisingly delicious! Maybe it was the bullion, but maybe the onions, garlic, beans, potatoes, and cabbage combine their magical powers to create something delicious! I later added carrots to give it some color and additional texture and flavor. I would also cut the cabbage smaller than the recipe called for – hard to eat a piece of cabbage that is bigger than your spoon!
While telling a friend about all the cabbage stuff I made, she said I should never worry about it going bad—it can last for two months apparently! Good to know. It is definitely a learning curve changing one’s eating habits to what is available locally. There were a few successes, a few failures with it. I’ll keep trying. I feel like I’m lacking nutrients in my diet, but people here are surviving just fine. Cabbage is apparently quite healthy. I only ever heard that it gives people gas and helps with weight loss.
In the meantime, if anyone has a cabbage recipe they would like to recommend, please submit it or a link to it in the form below! If I can find the ingredients, I will try your recommendations and write a post for each!