There was a bowling ball lurking in our refrigerator. It was purple. It doesn’t look big, but it felt like it weighed around five pounds. It was a purple cabbage, and I didn’t have any idea what to do with it.
Actually, the cabbage wasn’t quite the size of a bowling ball. But it sure seemed that way. We received it as part of our weekly share from the food co-op. The first time I prepared purple cabbage, it turned teal as it cooked, tasted funky, and everything was a teal-stained mess to clean.
None of my cookbooks mention cabbage of the purple sort. Searching online for a recipe was a mixed bag: you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. One search result yielded an online proponent of vegan diets. The vegan diet is fine; however, on this site, all the eye-level real estate is taken by advertising. Scrolling down the cabbage page, there’s a list of ingredients (again, far below the ads) you can combine with purple cabbage to whip up your very own vegan creation! Pick anything you want, from agave nectar to walnuts, you can combine something from every letter of the alphabet. But no recipes; you’re on your own.
Another site offered up a recipe for German-style cabbage. Unfortunately, we don’t have any German wine on hand, so I saved that idea for later.
I continued searching and found this appealing recipe for cabbage by Molly Wizenberg. While she didn’t specifically mention purple cabbage, I thought, “This sounds really good.” But I wanted to make a meal in one dish, so I embellished it some. The below is adapted from her post.
1 lb extra firm tofu
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 large purple cabbage, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, minced
sambal oelek to taste
tamari sauce to taste
cooking oil with a high smoke point. I prefer safflower oil.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice tofu into 3 pieces lengthwise. Bake in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes so that some of the moisture evaporates. Remove from oven; cut into cubes.
Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Cook the onion and tofu together until the tofu is browned; remove from wok. Cook garlic and cabbage, adding more oil if necessary and stirring constantly. When the cabbage has softened, add sambal oelek and tamari and stir. Return the tofu and onions to the wok and cook all together for five minutes. Serve with rice.
As I have an elementary school aged child who doesn’t care for spicy food, I only used a teaspoon of sambal oelek: it’s one of more intense chili sauces I’ve found. Incidentally that there are over a dozen different types of sambal with varying ingredients. Oelek is the only one I’ve seen in stores.