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GOOD COOKING

In Praise of the Maligned Cabbage

March 16, 1995|ABBY MANDEL

Cabbage--that healthful and versatile vegetable--is cursed by many because of the odor it emits during a long simmer on the stove. When cooked quickly, however, cabbage tastes sweet, succulent, even delicate.

So let's give cabbage another chance. After all, it's one of the cruciferous vegetables that appear to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. It's also a good source of vitamins, especially C and A (red cabbage has more C than green, but less A), and fiber. And a whole pound contains only about 110 calories.

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Consider this short-cut recipe for St. Patrick's Day: quick skillet corned beef and cabbage with horseradish. Consider, too, the sweet-and-sour cabbage soup with crunchy vegetables. This version, which omits meat, is low in fat without compromising flavor and satisfaction. The cabbage potstickers with fresh ginger dipping sauce are wonderfully tasty and not too spicy, great as finger food with drinks or as the first course of an Asian-inspired dinner.

It may be as much of a surprise to you as it was to me that cooked corned beef from the deli section of the market cannot be simmered a long time. It toughens up. That's why it's added at the end of cooking, only to warm it through before serving. Serve this corned-beef-and-cabbage dish with mashed potatoes and corn muffins.

SKILLET CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE WITH HORSERADISH

1 tablespoon butter

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 medium onion, sliced thin

1 small cabbage, cored, sliced thin

1/2 to 3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

2 to 3 teaspoons fresh horseradish

1 pound cooked corned beef, trimmed, cut into small dice

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons minced parsley

Melt butter in 4-quart saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add garlic and onion. Cook until onion is tender, about 4 minutes. Add cabbage, 1/2 cup broth and thyme. Simmer, covered, until cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes. Can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated overnight.

If refrigerated, gently reheat, adding remaining broth as needed, but there should be no flowing liquid in bottom of pan. Stir in horseradish and corned beef. Heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot. Season to taste with parsley.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains:

381 calories; 1,505 mg sodium; 119 mg cholesterol; 25 grams fat; 16 grams carbohydrates; 24 grams protein; 2.09 grams fiber.

CABBAGE POTSTICKERS WITH FRESH GINGER DIPPING SAUCE POTSTICKERS The crunch and sweetness of cabbage make these potstickers worth the trouble. The edges can be simply sealed or pleated. They freeze beautifully--and separately, so you can cook up as many as you need. By the way, instead of frying them, you can lightly steam them with a little seasoned broth. This flavors them and makes them tender enough to enjoy but still manageable as finger food.

POTSTICKERS

24 won ton wrappers

3/4 teaspoon sesame oil

Vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon minced ginger root

2 cups sliced cabbage

4 green onions, sliced thin

1/2 teaspoon oyster sauce

Salt

Red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dry Sherry

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/4 cup chicken broth

Line baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper dusted with cornstarch. Trim corners of won ton wrappers to make circular.

Heat sesame oil and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add garlic, ginger and cabbage. Cook until cabbage is just tender, about 7 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in green onions and oyster sauce. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.

Transfer mixture to food processor fitted with metal blade. Pulse on and off 6 to 7 times until mixture is roughly chopped. Spread mixture in shallow pan. Place in refrigerator until chilled. Do not freeze.

Place scant tablespoon filling in center of 1 won ton wrapper. Moisten edges of wrapper with cold water. Fold top over to meet opposite edge. Seal tightly by pressing edges firmly together, or pleat edge. Repeat until all wrappers are filled, setting potstickers aside, not touching, as they are completed.

Can be refrigerated overnight at this point, arranged on baking sheet and covered with plastic wrap, or frozen up to 1 month. First freeze and then wrap airtight in double plastic food bags to store in freezer. It is not necessary to thaw potstickers before cooking them.

Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When very hot, add 1/2 of potstickers in single layer. Cook until browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Use metal spatula to turn and brown second side, about 1 minute more. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Repeat with remaining potstickers, adding remaining oil as needed.

When all are browned, pour off excess oil from skillet. Place all potstickers in skillet and set over medium-high heat. When hot, combine Sherry, soy sauce and chicken broth in small bowl. When hot, add to skillet. Cook, loosely covered, 1 minute. Remove cover and continue cooking until liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute more. Use spatula to transfer to warm plate. Serve hot with Fresh Ginger Dipping Sauce.

FRESH GINGER DIPPING SAUCE

1/2 tablespoon chopped ginger root

1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest removed with zester or fine grater

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup ketchup

2 teaspoons white vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon hot dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine ginger, zest, juice, ketchup, vinegar, sugar, dry mustard and sesame oil in food processor fitted with metal blade or blender. Process until smooth. Makes 2/3 cup.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains:

145 calories; 699 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 7 grams fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.3 gram fiber.

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