Steamed Cabbage with Red Pepper
- from Jane Buck, adapted from the original in Time Life’s Fresh Ways With Vegetables
This is one of the most unusual side dishes I’ve tried. It looks like plain cabbage with some pepper in it, but the taste is extraordinary. It’s piquant without being “hot” and it seems to go with virtually any main course – plus it’s super easy to make (about 10 minutes of work, total time under half an hour). We’ve changed a few things from the original recipe, mainly using red pepper instead of green for a sweeter taste and to add a bit of colour, and cutting down on the salt and sugar. This dish tastes just as good the next day and can be nuked to re-heat.
1 Head of Green Cabbage, about 2 pounds (1 kg), thinly sliced
1 Tsp Sichuan Peppercorns (or ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper – but the Sichuan peppercorns are better)
¼ Cup Cider Vinegar
½ to 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar (I use ½, original recipe calls for 1 tbsp)
½ Tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/8 to ¼ Tsp Salt (I use 1/8, original recipe calls for ¼ tsp)
1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded, ribs removed and thinly sliced
Toast the Sichuan peppercorns over medium heat in a small, heavy-bottomed skillet for 3 to 4 minutes, shaking the skillet frequently. Transfer the peppercorns to a work surface and crush them.
Combine the vinegar, brown sugar, Sichuan (or black pepper), crushed red pepper, salt, and ¼ cup of water into a small saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, and cook it rapidly until reduced by half – 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.
Pour enough water int o a large pot to fill it about 1 inch deep. Set a vegetable steamer in the pot and bring the water to a boil. Put the slice cabbage and red bell pepper in the steamer, cover the pot tightly, and steam until the cabbage is just barely wilted, about 3 minutes.
Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl and pour the sauce through a strainer onto them. Toss the vegetables well to distribute the dressing evenly, and let them stand for 5 minutes before serving.