Three Easy Stir Fry Recipes with Napa Cabbage

Napa or Chinese cabbage seems to be at it’s best this time of the year so here are three very quick and easy stir fry recipes that make use of it-

Spices for making Chinese five spice powder-

Napa cabbage is very different from the red and green cabbage you normally find at the grocery store. It is much more tender and mellow. It’s flavor is more like a mild celery than cabbage with nutty undertones and it doesn’t develop that sulfurous stench when cooked. It also keeps well once chopped and does not develop those black moldy looking spots as long as it is refrigerated.

*These recipes are loosely based on recipes from Elaine Luo’s cooking blog- www.chinasichuanfood.com – if you would like to find more authentic Chinese recipes check it out.

*The actual cooking process for this recipe is very quick- so it’s much easier to have everything prepped and ready to go.

*Chinese black vinegar, or chinkiang vinegar, is a dark, malty vinegar made from rice and wheat. It tastes very similar to a Flemish sour red ale without the bubbles.  If Chinese black vinegar is unavailable a mixture of regular rice vinegar and a balsamic vinegar, or Flemish sour or smoky brown ale is a pretty close substitute.

*Bok Choy can be used in place of Napa Cabbage. Whichever Chinese cabbage you are using the greens will cook much faster than the white rib portions- so to keep them from getting mushy they should be added just before removing from heat.

 

Vegetables:  Szechuan-Style Cabbage Stir fry

*Doubanjiang is a paste made from fermented fava beans (broad beans), hot chilies, salt and spices. There is really nothing quite like a quality Doubanjiang but a mixture of Sichuan Chili Oil and regular Chinese Black Bean Paste will make an effective substitute.

  • 1 tbsp each Chinese Black Vinegar, Chinese Cooking Wine and light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp each sugar (opt) and starch
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced thin on the bias
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 3-5 slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp Doubanjiang (fermented broad bean and chili paste)- pref from Pu Xian region
  • ½ tsp Chinese Five Spice powder (or to taste)
  • 1-3 dried Thai red chilies crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • Vegetable oil (pref sesame oil) as needed for coating pan
  • 1 head Napa Cabbage, sliced thin with white portions separated from the greens
  • Additional light soy sauce, ground Szechuan Pepper and thinly slices green onions to garnish

 

  1. In a small bowl mix vinegar, wine, soy sauce, sugar (if using), starch, sesame oil and sea salt. Sauce should be about the color of lightly creamed coffee. Set aside.
  2. In a second bowl crush the white portions of green onions as well as the garlic and ginger slices to a paste and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
  3. In a mortar and pestle mash up the Doubanjiang and stir in the Five Spice powder and Thai chilies. Set aside.
  4. In a wok or deep sauté or frying pan heat oil over medium. When nice and hot add the onion/garlic/ginger paste and sauté 30 sec or so until the raw garlic smell goes away. Add Doubanjiang/chili/ Five Spice mixture and sauté for another minute or until the reddish oil begins to separate from the pastes.
  5. Add the sliced up white portions of the cabbage, turn heat up to medium-high, stir for a minute and then add the sauce.  Continue cooking  for a minute or two until sauce thickens and turns translucent. Stir in green portions of cabbage and remove from heat.
  6. Serve hot with steamed rice and garnish with remaining green onion slices and a drizzle of soy sauce.

 

Pasta:  Chili Sesame Noodles

*If alkaline noodles are unavailable vermicelli or thin spaghetti will work. Tahini paste will work as sesame paste.

 

  1. Cook noodles in salted water until al dente. Drain, toss with a tsp of sesame oil (so they don’t glue themselves together) and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl stir remaining sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauces and water one by one into the sesame paste until it is thick and creamy. Add the salt and five spice powder and set aside.
  3. In a large wok, deep sauté or frying pan heat cooking and chili oils oil over medium. When nice and hot add the garlic paste and sauté 30 sec or so until the raw garlic smell goes away.
  4. Add the sliced up white portions of the cabbage, turn heat up to medium-high, stir for a minute then push the cabbage to the sides of the pan. Add the sesame sauce, cook for a minute then stir in the noodles.
  5. Mix everything together and cook for a minute or so until the noodles are nice and hot. Stir in green portions of cabbage and remove from heat.
  6. Serve hot garnished with fried soybeans or toasted peanuts, a drizzle of soy sauce and green onions.

 

Pasta:  Egg Fried Noodles In Black Bean Sauce

*Douchi are salted, fermented and spiced black soybeans. Douchi smells strangely chocolate-like with a very salty, savory flavor. There is really nothing quite like them but if you mix up some regular canned black beans with ginger, Chinese five spice powder, a lot of salt and cocoa powder it actually smells and tastes roughly similar.

*If alkaline noodles are unavailable plain ramen noodles, vermicelli or thin spaghetti will work. You can also use quinoa pasta- but you will want to rinse the noodles off after cooking as they tend to glue themselves together after draining.

  • ½ lb alkaline noodles
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil – or as needed
  • 1 tbsp Douchi (fermented and spiced black soybeans)
  • 1 tbsp each Chinese black vinegar, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce.
  • ½ tsp Chinese five spice powder (or to taste)
  • 1-2 Thai chilies, broken coarsely (opt)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste
  • 1-2 slices ginger root, mashed to a paste
  • 1 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3-5 leaves Napa Cabbage, sliced thin with white portions separated from the greens
  • ¼ tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • Additional light soy sauce and thinly sliced green onions to garnish

 

  1. Cook noodles in salted water until al dente. Drain, toss with a tsp of sesame oil (so they don’t glue themselves together) and set aside.
  2. In a mortar and pestle mash up the douchi. Add a tsp of sesame oil, the vinegar, soy sauces and spices and mix everything together into a thin paste. Set aside.
  3. In a large wok, deep sauté or frying pan heat a tbsp of sesame oil over medium. When nice and hot pour the beaten eggs into the pan. Let them sit for a minute until they begin to set up then break them up with a spoon and fry until just cooked.
  4. Push eggs pieces to the sides of the pan and pour another tbsp or so of oil into the center of the pan. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 30 sec or so until the raw garlic smell goes away.
  5. Add the mushrooms and white portions of the cabbage, turn heat up to medium-high, stir for a minute or so then push the cabbage to the sides of the pan.
  6. Add the black bean sauce, cook for a minute then stir in the noodles.
  7. Mix everything together and cook for a minute or so until the noodles are nice and hot. Stir in green portions of cabbage and remove from heat.
  8. Serve hot garnished with a drizzle of soy sauce and green onions.

Recipes- Updated Hamburger Stroganoff

Since summer is now technically over and it’s quite cool and clammy (in these parts anyway) here is a fresh take on a savory comfort food from childhood-

Hamburger Recipes:  Updated Hamburger Stroganoff

*This is a tangier and more complex take on the classic Americana recipe. The wine and vinegar reduction brings some natural sweetness and acidity to this traditionally very heavy (and fatty) dish that complements the sour cream. The generous amount of herbs gives it some added depth.

*A Chablis, Bourgogne Blanc or Viognier work best in this recipe. TVP or Faux ground beef work well if you want a veggie version of this- and they don’t need to be browned beforehand- simply add them to the pan after the mushrooms are nice and tender.  We have Pot Pie Squares from The Little Barn of PA here in the store which work well to in place of regular egg noodles.

 

  1. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the raw hamburger and sauté until nicely browned and no pink shows. Remove from pan and keep warm.

2. Add the remaining butter to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until onion is soft and begins to caramelize. Crush garlic into pan and sauté until fragrant and beginning to turn golden- do not brown/burn the garlic- about 30 seconds.

3. Add the porcini mushrooms, herbs, spices, wine and vinegar and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer, uncovered, until the liquid begins to condense a little- probably 10 minutes or so.

4. Add mushrooms and sauté until they start to give off their juices. Then stir in the water or broth, the flour mixture, a little salt and the ground beef and let simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes.

5. When the gravy begins to thicken remove from heat and stir in the sour cream and parsley.

6. Serve hot over egg noodles dusted with pepper and paprika and garnish with green onion or chives.

New Additions- September 2018

So we’ve added quite a bit to our selection during the month of August-

For the wine wall we stocked up on some sweet closeout deals including the following:

  • Belmondo Pinot Noir from Italy
  • Louis Bernard, Cotes du Provence Rose from France
  • Cosentino’s “The Rose” from California
  • La Puerta Torrontes from Argentina
  • Vandenberg Chardonnay from California

All $7.99 a bottle! We also have Hunt & Harvest Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc for $8.99; Georges Duboeuf Jolie Saison Gamay for $8.99 a pop and Pouilly-Fuisse at $13.49 a bottle.

Also we now have Nero D’Avola and Pinot Noir from Stemmari of Italy and Copper Ridge White Zinfandel from California.

And for the beer cart we have Royal Jamaican Ginger Beer. This Is an actual beer with alcohol- it is not a soda.

In the spice library we now have:

  • Organic whole juniper berries- great for making bathtub gin- recipes coming soon
  • Organic rosemary leaves
  • Jamaican allspice berries
  • Organic dried minced onion
  • Organic garlic powder
  • Organic whole celery seed
  • Organic whole dill seed
  • Organic Spearmint leaves
  • Organic vanilla extract
  • Linden flowers
  • Ajwain (Bishop’s weed seed)
  • Amchur powder (dry mango powder)
  • Anardana (pomegranate seed powder)
  • Asafetida powder
  • Black mustard seed
  • Sumac -ground
  • Saffron

*We also have Fair Trade/Organic full leaf Darjeeling Tea and Organic Matcha Tea Powder.

Also new:

  • Preservative-free papaya spears from NOW Foods
  • Raw almond flour also from NOW Foods
  • Better Stevia Organic stevia extract powder
  • Appalachian Salt & Cracked Pepper Chips from Rt 11 Potato Chips

Frigerator Pickles

Tired of mushy dill pickles or spending hours sterilizing jars and brining cucumbers overnight? Here are three incredibly easy refrigerator pickle recipes to try out-

And when I say incredibly easy I mean incredibly easy- they require no cooking skills whatsoever- just chop and assemble the veggies then the vinegar, salt and spices do the work. Plus since you can make a jar at a time you can have more variety.

* Use Thai chilies for heat and cayenne chilies for flavor. If fresh turmeric is unavailable ½ tsp ground turmeric will work. A tbsp of dried, minced onions will work in place of fresh onion or shallots. If want a sweeter version of these add a tablespoon of sugar or a pinch of stevia extract.

Recipe 1:  Frigerator Dill Pickles

  • 1 clean 16 oz wide mouth pickling jar with lid
  • 1 clove garlic sliced thin into chips
  • 1” piece fresh (or frozen) turmeric root sliced into thin chips
  • 2 tsp dill seed
  • ½ tsp coarsely crushed black peppercorns
  • 1-2 dried chili peppers, crumbled (opt)
  • 1 large English cucumber (or equivalent amount regular cucumbers) sliced into chips or spears
  • 1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp canning and pickling salt (or to taste)
  • Pinch of alum (opt)

Recipe 2:  Sweet and Spicy Pickled Zucchini

Recipe 3:  Frigerator Pickled cabbage

1 – Place onion, garlic, turmeric and other spices into the jar. Then pack in enough veggies that it fills the jar to just below the lip.

2 – Heat vinegar, water, alum (if using) and salt in a small sauce pot. When solution comes to a boil remove pot from heat and pour solution into the jar. The vinegar solution needs to cover the vegetables- if there isn’t quite enough add a little more vinegar.

3 – Secure lid to jar and shake jar vigorously. When jar is cool enough to pick up with bare hands place it in the fridge. Let veggies inpicklelate for 3-4 days before using. They will keep in the fridge for weeks.

 

Golden Split Pea and Pumpkin Soup

Autumn is still months away but when I was cleaning out the freezer I realized I still had quite a bit of pumpkin left over from last fall so I figured I would put it to use in an experimental recipe-

I took a basic North Indian Chana Dal recipe and tweaked the spices for a more Autumnal flavor. The caramelized maple scent of the fenugreek seed and bready, savory quality of the nigella compliment the earthy sweetness of the split peas. I use cassia cinnamon in this recipe instead of Ceylon cinnamon as it has a sweeter scent with vanilla undertones (due to it’s coumarin content). The pumpkin marries well with the peas and sweet and savory spices and imparts a rich, golden hue to the soup. This soup goes well with naan, roti or masala paratha.

Peas: Golden Split Pea and Pumpkin Soup

*The Thai chilies give this recipe a little kick- if you don’t like the heat you can skip them. A pinch of stevia extract works nicely in place of the jaggery.

*For a velvety smooth soup take the soup off the heat when the peas are all tender. Remove the cinnamon stick and tej patta and puree the soup (in batches) in a blender until smooth. Reheat and add the amchur and cilantro before serving.

  1. Soak split peas with baking soda in cold water for an hour or so. Drain peas, and rinse in several changes of water.
  2. Melt ghee over medium heat in a pot. Add the fenugreek, nigella, tej patta, cinnamon stick and Thai chilies (if using). When the seeds start to splutter add the onion and sauté a few minutes till onion begins to caramelize. Crush garlic directly into the pan and cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant and starts to turn golden (do not brown/burn the garlic).
  3. Add the asafetida, chili, garam masala and tumeric powders. Cook, stirring, until the ghee becomes golden hued- about a minute. Add the tomatoes and pumpkin puree and simmer until the sauce thickens- about 5 minutes.
  4. Add peas, a tsp of salt, the sugar and enough water to make a thick soup. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer until the peas are very tender- about 30-40 minutes. If you cook them long enough they will “melt” and develop an almost pureed quality. Add water if it isn’t soupy enough.
  5. Stir in amchur, remove from heat then add cilantro. Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt, green onions, and a dusting of grated nutmeg or extra garam masala.

 

Sweet and Savory Stewed Kidney Beans

The spice and cocoa blend used in this recipe is based on an authentic Mexican dark red mole recipe I found. The blend of smoky chipotle, sweet cinnamon and savory cumin and herbs compliments the rich, meaty quality of the kidney beans-

Kidney Beans: Sweet and Savory Stewed Kidney Beans

*You can use pre-ground spices instead of whole ones but the flavor won’t be as rich. You should use the thin, papery sticks of cassia cinnamon- the thick bark pieces can destroy a spice grinder. Save the thick pieces of cassia for mulled wine or cider. Thai chilies (or peri peri peppers) will give this dish some heat. If you want something less spice use ancho chilies or cayennes. Also ¼ tsp of stevia powder (or other sugar substitutes) can be used instead of brown sugar.

*I just pureed the raisins with the tomatoes. Other dried fruit like prunes or dates would also work.

*For a non-vegetarian version ground beef (lightly browned) would work well in this recipe. I would add it after the beans have become tender as they take quite awhile to cook. And on that note make sure to simmer/boil the beans for at least half an hour- kidney beans contain phytotoxins that can cause gastric upset (think extreme wind breaking). Thouroughly cooking the beans destroys these toxins. Pre-soaking them with baking soda also helps.

 

  1. Soak beans at least overnight (24 hours is even better) in cold water with baking soda. Drain beans and rinse in several changes of water
  2. Grind cinnamon, cumin, allspice, oregano, peppercorns, thyme, cloves, nutmeg and Thai chilies (if using) into a fine powder in a spice grinder. Place in a bowl and mix in cocoa and chili powders. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in the large pot over medium heat. Add onion and bay leaves and sauté until the onion softens and begins to caramelize.
  4. Crush garlic and add that to the pot. Sauté the garlic for 30 sec or until fragrant and beginning to turn golden. Do not brown/burn the garlic.
  5. Add raisins, tomatoes and ground spice mixture to the pot and simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until gravy is thick.
  6. Add beans, water to cover (and a little extra depending on how soupy you want this dish), a tsp of salt and the sugar.
  7. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer 40-60 min or until the beans are very tender. Mash a cup of the cooked beans into a fine paste and return them to the stew. Continue to simmer, uncovered for about 20 min until stew is very thick. Remove from heat, add salt to taste and then stir in the cilantro.
  8. To serve, spoon over rice, add a dollop of sour cream and mix thoroughly. Garnish with shredded cheese, jalapenos, green onions and a dusting of ground cumin, cinnamon, chipotle and some freshly cracked black pepper.