Continuing my series on cabbage, I present to you a simple dish I tossed together recently in the face of a relatively bare cupboard.
I'm calling this a salad, because I am a little at a loss for the best possible descriptor, and because it is dressed at the end, just like a salad is. But unlike the usual salad, this is excellent hot. I imagine it would be good cold, too, but we've never had leftovers, so I can't say for sure. I've used it as a bed for crispy fried tofu; it's also good as a side dish and I imagine it would go very well with a firm, white-fleshed fish. The flavor is lively, which means it's good for brightening up a dismal day. It also means that it would be appropriate in warmer months of the year. I'd bet that in its cold or room temperature state it would make a nice alternative to cole slaw, with the added benefit that you don't have to worry about mayonnaise in the hot sun.
The amount of hot pepper I have here gives the dish, to my taste, just a moderate amount of spiciness, which complements and accentuates the tanginess of the lime. If you want something milder, of course, you can use just half a pepper, choose a milder variety, and/or remove the seeds. I don't recommend skipping it altogether (though of course you can do whatever you like!) -- this is a dish that makes use of the flavor of the pepper, not just its heat.
CITRUSY WILTED CABBAGE SALAD
1 T. olive oil
1 small or medium onion, chopped
1/2 head of green cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
A splash or two of stock, white wine, or water
Juice of 1 lime
1 green serrano pepper or similar, minced very fine
3 T. chopped cilantro
1/4 t. ground coriander
1 t. salt, or to taste
A knob of butter
Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Saute until translucent. Add the cabbage and turn the heat up to medium high. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a couple of splashes of stock, wine, or water, turn the heat down to low, and cover. Let braise for about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is wilted but still has a little bit of bite to it.
In the meantime, mix the ingredients for the dressing: the lime juice, chile, cilantro, coriander, and salt. When the cabbage is ready, keep the heat on low and add the dressing. Toss briefly. Add the butter and stir just until it's melted and distributed through the mixture. Take off heat.