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A return to glory for cabbagesGrowing cabbage

If ever a vegetable got a bad rap for being a good thing, it would be the cabbage. Countless northern cultures have used this sturdy vegetable for a staple, incorporating it into tasty borscht, hearty stews, zesty stir-fries and simple slaws. But in home kitchens here, cabbage is often forgotten as gourmet fare and dutifully consumed as "health food."

"I think they've been "Puritanized," says Ashland Food Co-op's culinary educator Mary Shaw. "They have been health-promoted literally to the death of cabbage."

Shaw suggests a simple exercise for anyone who has forgotten about the beauty of cabbage: go into the grocery store when Savoy cabbages have just come in season. "They look like the most glorious and complicated flower imaginable," says Shaw. "They are so extraordinary I end up putting them on the table for a centerpiece."

Red cabbage is "always in the fridge," and the pale leaves of Chinese cabbage are striking in a salad with raw spinach, says Shaw. Her recipe for cabbage with shrimp and rice is a beautiful dish. "I buy a lot of Napa cabbage and always eat it raw, unless it's in a quick stir fry."

That's how it's prepared at Ali's Thai Kitchen in Medford. The secret to cooking Napa cabbage is to have everything "hot, hot, hot," says manager, Pornjit Pronobis. It's not enough to have the pan hot. "The oil needs to be hot, too," she says. Be careful not to over-cook, or use too low a temperature, both will release the juices from the cabbage. "It won't take too long," Pronobis says. "Napa cabbage will make a lot of juice."

Ali's Napa Cabbage with Mushrooms

Serves 4 or more

1 head Napa cabbage

½ head green cabbage

3-4 shitake mushrooms, sliced

¼ cup stock

½ teaspoon. sugar

Pinch salt

1-2 teaspoons. soy sauce

½ teaspoon. oyster sauce

1-2 cloves garlic (depending on taste)

High heat cooking oil

Chop the cabbage into larger pieces. Mix in a bowl with all other ingredients. Heat the wok. Add oil and heat. Add all the ingredients together and quickly stir fry.

Asian Rice and Shrimp Salad Serves 4


1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoon fresh lime juice

3 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup

2 tablespoon Tamari

2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

½ cup cashews, chopped

Salad: 2 scallions, finely shredded

¼ cup fresh basil, chopped

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 to 3 radishes cut into matchsticks

1 cup Napa or Savoy cabbage chopped fine

3 cups cooked Basmati rice

Shrimp:1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 pound Gulf Shrimp, raw

2 tablespoons Tamari

2 tablespoons Mirin or 1 teaspoon honey dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and roast the cashews until they are fragrant (about 7 minutes). Set aside.

  • In a large bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, vinegar, honey, Tamari, and toasted sesame oil. Whisk together.

  • Add the scallions, herbs, vegetables and rice. Toss with the dressing.

  • Heat a wok or skillet. Add the sesame oil, then the shrimp, stir-frying until the shrimp begins to turn orange.

  • Combine the Tamari and Mirin, and pour over the shrimp. Continue to stir-fry until the liquid forms a glaze on the shrimp.

  • Toss the shrimp and cashews into the salad and serve.

    A return to glory for cabbagesGrowing cabbage