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Don't Get All Mushy

Serving up cabbage in the raw



Haven't you had enough mixed spring salad from a tub? You need to see other vegetables. Winter cabbage is so sweet and crisp raw, but come St. Patrick's Day we'll be boiling the blarney out of it with corned beef. Even summer's coleslaws, tasty as they are, tend to cover up the flavor of the cabbage itself. If you've got a good knife and a couple of Japanese ingredients in your kitchen, you have some nice wilt-free options that don't require actual cooking and let the taste and crunch of fresh cabbage shine through.

One is to slice it as finely as possible and serve it next to something that could use a little lightening, like the fried pork katsu that always comes with a nest of cabbage in Japanese restaurants. It's lovely with a small dollop of mayonnaise and soy sauce on the side, or a splash of ponzu sauce. Just go slowly when you're cutting and watch your fingers — my grandmother could speed along with her cleaver like a machine, tap-tap-tapping away until she'd made a great pile of pale green hay, but she was a ringer.

Cabbage with Miso Dip

This works as a crudité option when you can't bear to look at another spread of carrot sticks and celery. In Japan, people love it as snack with a beer, too. Serves 4.

Ingredients and method

½ head of green cabbage

1/3 cup white or brown miso

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon mirin

¼ teaspoon red chili paste or Sriracha sauce (optional)

Mix the soy sauce and mirin into the miso and adjust to taste — the saltiness of miso varies, so keep tasting and adding as needed. If you don't have mirin, a teaspoon of sake and a pinch of sugar will work. Add chili paste or sauce if desired. It should look like soft peanut butter.

Wash and core the cabbage, then cut it into 2-inch chunks. Separate the pieces like chips for dipping. Serve.

Ramen Shop Cabbage Salad

Let's be real — most of us would eat lawn trimmings with sesame oil drizzled over them, so this dressing is an easy win with cabbage or other raw greens. If you have some firm tofu, leftover roast pork or chicken, toss it on top. Serves 4.

Ingredients and method:

½ head of green cabbage

¼ cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

2 green onions, chopped finely

Roughly chop the cabbage into 1-inch chunks and toss in a salad bowl to separate the pieces. Mix the soy, sesame oil, vinegar and brown sugar together until they emulsify. Drizzle the dressing over the cabbage, sprinkle on the green onions and sesame seeds and serve.

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