I’ll return to your regularly scheduled chocolate myth debunkery soon, I promise. But in the meantime, I wanted to post a brief interlude about the world’s most amazing cabbage rolls.
Last night, I lined up for an hour at a secret location, only to be told that supplies were running low. Rations were set at one dozen perogies and one dozen vegetarian cabbage rolls. Things were looking dire. There were, however, ample supplies of the world’s hugest Ukrainian sausage. We took what we could get and booked it home, we were so excited to eat.
Well, it was worth the wait. The perogies were soft pillows of filling that actually tasted like potato, nestled inside the thinnest possible pastry. They were unctuous and tasty, and it was remarkable how much flavour an actual perogy has. I’ve been wasting away in frozen perogy land for far too long.
But the cabbage rolls! My god, the cabbage rolls. My previous experiences with cabbage rolls have been with oversized cabbage wrapped around mushy rice, the whole thing doused in sauce in a poor attempt to hide the lack of flavour and texture. These cabbage rolls were the complete opposite. They were dainty and delicate: a thin cabbage leaf hugging a flavourful mixture of perfectly al dente rice cooked with spices.
The ultimate bite: one part cabbage roll, one part perogy, one part pan-fried sausage, one part caramelized onion, one part sour cream. I dare you to find anything more perfect on a cold Friday night.
Would you like bacon with your bacon? Okay, how about sausage with your bacon? Wait, actually – how about you weave a mat out of bacon, cover it with Italian sausage, top it with more bacon, and then string the whole thing up? And then, let’s say – hypothetically – that you take this bundle of pork product goodness, slather it with barbecue sauce, and then put it in a smoker for two hours?
Well, my friends, you’d have a bacon explosion.
I can’t even take credit for having discovered it. My dear friend Roxy passed it on after seeing an article in the New York Times.
Does anyone have a smoker? I’ll bring the bacon and Italian sausage.
My mom dropped off a turnip cake for Chinese New Year, and it’s delicious. Turnip cake symbolizes prosperity and fortune.
(I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to my other posts about symbolism in Chinese food, but there’s a lot of food that symbolizes some combination of prosperity, fortune and wealth. No wonder the Chinese like to eat so much.)
Anyway, turnip cake is a cross between a cake and a pancake. It’s made of daikon (a long, white, Chinese turnip), rice flour, Chinese sausage, and dried shrimp. My mom also throws in dried scallops and cilantro. The mixture is pressed into a cake pan and steamed.
Then it’s delivered to my house, where I cut it into pieces and panfry them until they’re crispy on both sides. Yum.
One of my favourite memories of New York was when Nrinder, my lovely host, took me to a hole-in-the-wall Caribbean restaurant called Taste of the Islands. I don’t have a hope in hell of finding it again, much less telling you where it is, but I know that it’s within a few blocks of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, there’s no sign outside, and I probably would have walked right by it had Nrinder not gone inside.