Friday, July 3, 2009
This recipe was inspired by the gorgeous Chinese cabbage I picked up from Joel and Margaret of Thousand Flower Farm last Saturday at the Farmers' Market. Joel wasn't sure how versatile this veggie could be, so I promised to make something and come back with a report on the results.
This gorgeous, slightly peppery, big-leafed cabbage is often used in soups and added to light broths in Chinese cooking, but it is also wonderful in stir fries, braised, like in this recipe, and chopped up raw for salad. The dark green leaves are soft and have a slight horseradish flavor, while the white stems are crunchy, tender, and super-sweet.
This recipe originally called for bacon, and that's how I made it the first time around, but all the tasters agreed that the marinated pork was more flavorful, had better texture, and was probably a little healthier to boot. You could also use thinly-sliced pork loin for an even lighter version of the dish.
Adapted from The Bacon Cookbook by James Villas
1 pound pork butt partially frozen and sliced as thinly as possible
1 tbsp fresh ginger
1 lb Thousand Flower Farm Chinese cabbage leaves
4 medium sized carrots, peeled
1 1/2 cups chicken broth and 1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Marinate your sliced pork for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight in the refrigerator. The longer you marinate, the more tender and flavorful the dish will be.
Separate and wash your cabbage leaves. If you have an extra large cabbage (like Joel and Margaret's!) use the larger leaves on the outside. Chop large leaves in half horizontally to fit the pot you'll be using, separating the dark green tops from the white bottoms.
Chop your carrots into 2'' portions, then slice the 2'' portions thinly.
To make sure your layers end up even, divide the cabbage leaves and carrot strips into 4 parts and divide the pork, bacon, and chopped ginger into 3 parts. Try to use the white stems on the lower levels, rather than in the top layers as they will cook better closer to the source of heat and to the liquid. Arrange cabbage leaves and carrots on the bottom of a large (3 qt) pot; cover with a portion of the meats and chopped ginger. Continue layering. On the last layer, put the carrot strips under the cabbage instead of on top; and if possible, save the prettiest, biggest leaves for the top -- this just makes for a prettier presentation.
Add your chicken broth and soy sauce, bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to medium so that the chicken broth is only simmering. Cover the pot and cook until the top layer of cabbage is cooked, about 30 minutes.
At this point, remove the pan from heat and carefully lift the mass from the pot using two spatulas (you may want to employ some help, though it is possible with just one person!), leaving the juices behind. Return the pot with juice to low heat. Add the cornstarch mixture and pepper and stir gently for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce over the mound of cabbage. Cut the layers into slices (like lasagna) and serve with generous amounts of sauce over hot jasmine rice.