I am a great fan of roasting veg. I think it intensifies the flavour and brings out the natural sweetness in veg but for some reason I never thought of roasting cabbage. Sometimes it makes veg taste too vegetal as, I think, is the case with broccoli, so I assumed cabbage would be the same. I reluctantly gave it a go and was really pleasantly surprised. It came out sweet and crunchy with crispy edges. A real treat. You can cut the cabbage into more attractive “wedges” if you like or even just in halves, but I think it makes it more difficult to eat and although it is not as picturesque, cutting it smaller makes it cook much quicker too.
I decided to combine this new discovery with my home-made Black Bean Sauce. This is one of my favourite, quick and easy sauces which can transform stir-fries in minutes. But is also great with pork, chicken or fish, especially scallops. It is so superior to any ready-made black beans sauce that you have ever bought, that you will not believe how easy it is.
Do not get your beans confused. You need to find salted, fermented black beans, known as Douchi, in a Chinese supermarket. These will keep forever in a sealed Kilner jar, so by a big bag and you will always have them to hand. The sauce, once made, will also keep for at least a week or two in the fridge, so you can make up a large batch and use it for other dishes.
And since it is still January and we are all focusing on health eating and ways to improve our health, don’t forget that it is important to include some fermented foods into your diet because they are super good for you. They act to aid digestion, support immune function, and benefit overall nutritional status by increasing B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.
Finally, another great plus for fermented beans, is you get all the benefits of the nutrients of beans but without their notorious, disagreeable side effect. I can’t promise the same for the cabbage though!
Roasted Cabbage with Black Bean Sauce
1 head cabbage, can be pretty much any sort, cored and cut into 1-inch squares
A little sunflower oil
50g salted black beans
Generous knob of ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 large fresh red chilli
1 tbsp. Shao Hsing rice wine, or dry sherry
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
½ lime (optional)
Fresh coriander (optional)
Preheat oven to 200°C. Toss cabbage in a little sunflower oil, tip on to a large roasting tray and spread out in an even layer. Roast until beginning to wilt and brown, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile make your sauce. Peel the garlic and grate on a course microplaner or a fine box grater. With a spoon scrape the outer skin from the ginger. Grate on the course microplaner or finely chop. Cut the chilli in half and remove the seeds, and finely chop. Then chop all three together with the black beans until you have a brown mush. Put into a bowl and stir in the wine, the sesame oil and the soy. Add a little water to get a nice consistency. You can add a squeeze of lime if you like. Adjust to taste.
Remove the cabbage from the oven and mix through the sauce. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Add fresh chopped coriander if you like. Serve hot.