cabbage

Yaki udon

udon noodles

This dish is becoming a firm family favourite. It makes an excellent, quick, midweek dinner and can be easily adapted to please the fussy tastes of children. This was the dish that I always used to order at Wagamamas. I don’t bother now that I can make it so easily at home but the reduced portion sizes at Wagamamas have put me off going there in any case.

In this recipe everything revolves around the sauce and noodles. You can then freestyle the rest adding whatever vegetables are in your bottom drawer of your fridge. The original recipe (from Tim Anderson’s ‘Nanban – Japanese Soul Food’) adds beansprouts and mushrooms but I generally use cabbage and carrots because I always have those in and everyone in our household likes them. Tim also adds bacon and you could add chicken or prawns if you like, but I prefer to keep it vegetarian.

With regards to the noodles, I use ready made quick cook udon noodles which I buy from Tesco. Loyal followers of this blog may remember that I did once attempt to make my own but this was very hard work (you have to knead and walk on the dough multiple times and then hand roll the noodles!). I generally don’t mind putting in the effort if the end result is fabulous but in this case the final noodles were a bit rugged and rather stodgy.

My children don’t like onion and so I only put the crispy onion and spring onion on the adult plates. Likewise with the sesame seeds. Everyone likes the omelette topping though and the children squabble over who gets the biggest portion of this.

Yaki-udon

Serves 4

  • 4 x 200g cooked udon noodles
  • ½ a cabbage cut into very thin strips
  • 4 carrots sliced lengthways as thinly as possible and then cut into fine strips
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger finely chopped or grated

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • ½ a teaspoon of ground white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of mirin
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of dashi powder or MSG (optional – obviously don’t use dashi if you’re a vegetarian)

To garnish

  • Thin omelettes cooled and very finely sliced
  • Sesame seeds
  • Crispy fried onions (you can buy these ready made or make your own buy slicing an onion very, very thinly and then frying on a high heat in a lot of oil for 5-10 minutes until brown and crispy. Drain well on kitchen roll before using)
  • The green tops of spring onion

This makes a large amount. You will need a large wok, otherwise cook in two batches.

Heat a little oil in a large wok until hot. Stir fry the carrots for 1-2 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and cabbage and stir fry for another 3-4 minutes until wilted.

Mix up the ingredients for the sauce and add to the pan, then stir in the cooked or straight-to-wok udon noodles. Stir fry for another couple of minutes until heated through and then serve.

Garnish with the sesame seeds, egg, spring onion and crisp fried onion (or any combination of these that you like).

A giant cabbage pasty

cabbagepasty

Trust me this is much nicer than it sounds.

I love cabbage. I’m thrilled that we currently have a glut that needs eating quickly before it bolts and goes to seed. I will quite happily eat a whole bowl full on its own (just stir fried with a little garlic or simply raw with a Japanese style dressing) but I’ve been trying to find recipes that  make this humble vegetable a meal in itself – not just a side dish. I’m also after recipes that will win over my husband and children.

This recipe (by Melissa Clarke for NYT food online) is brilliant and seemed to go down well. The real winner is the pastry which is very sturdy and easy to make. I can’t wait to try using it with other fillings. Potato and wild garlic perhaps, or maybe sausage and onion.

If you prefer learning by watching then there’s a helpful video here (by Melissa, not me).

Melissa Clarke’s Cabbage and Onion Torta

(in my own words – with some amendments – and converted from US cup measurements)

Serves 6-8

For the pastry

  • 475g of plain flour
  • 60g wholemeal flour
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 170g of butter
  • Cold water (no more than 350 ml)

For the filling

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 680g of cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar (or more to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 70g of dry bread crumbs
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of dried or fresh thyme
  • 225g of cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar and red Leicester but Melissa uses fontina)
  • 1 large egg yolk, to glaze

Measure the butter and place in the freezer for 1 hour to harden up a bit. In a large bowl measure out the flour and the salt. Remove the butter from the freezer and grate it into the bowl. Mix with a knife until well incorporated. Add enough cold water (a couple of tablespoons at a time) until the mixture comes together – you may not need the whole 350ml. Use your hands to bring everything together into a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in heavy based pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (around 10 minutes).

Add another tablespoon of oil and stir in the cabbage, a handful at a time, waiting for each addition to wilt before adding more. Cook until the cabbage is tender (about 7-10 minutes). Stir in the vinegar and salt and cook for a few minutes scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add more salt and vinegar to taste if you think it’s needed.

Add the final tablespoon oil into the pan and stir in the breadcrumbs, garlic and thyme. Cook until the breadcrumbs turn golden (about 1 minute). Set aside.

Heat your oven to 220oC and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

On a floured surface, roll out your dough into a 17-by-12-inch rectangle. With the long side facing you, spread half the bread crumbs evenly over half of the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Top with half the cheese, then half the cabbage, then the remaining cheese, followed by cabbage and finally breadcrumbs.

Dab the edges of the dough with water. Fold half the dough over the filling and use the prongs of a fork to seal edges. Brush the crust with a beaten egg yolk.

Using a knife, cut several slits in the centre of the crust. Transfer the pie to your prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown (about 45 minutes).

Cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

cabbagepasty3