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Eric Akis: Nutritious cabbage a versatile staple

The low-calorie source of fibre, minerals and vitamins is a good vegetable to always have on hand
Prawn and Cabbage Stir-fry Cabbage and other vegetables stir-fried with prawns and peanuts. ERIC AKIS

I bought what I thought was a small head of locally grown cabbage late last week and it kept on giving for my wife and me.

For one meal, I shredded some of that cabbage and made coleslaw with it to serve with the fish burgers we were having. For another meal, my wife sliced and braised some of that cabbage with stock and flavourings and served it as a side dish for roasted chicken legs.

I also used a bit of that cabbage in the Latvian-style meatball soup recipe that appeared in my column this past Sunday. And the rest of the cabbage was used in today’s recipes for prawn and cabbage stir-fry, which serve two.

To make that stir-fry, large prawns were quickly fried in a skillet until just cooked though. The prawns were then lifted out of the skillet and on to a plate. Chopped cabbage was then added to the skillet and stir-fried with bell peppers, carrots, ginger and garlic. A sauce mixture, made with such things as oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and chili sauce, was then poured in. The prawns were then set back in the skillet, along with some green onions and chopped peanuts (or cashews).

The stir-fry was then cooked a short while longer, until everything was nicely coated with the sauce and the prawns piping hot again. You can serve the stir-fry with steamed rice or Asian-style noodles.

Beyond cabbage’s culinary versatility as noted above, another reason I like it is that it’s very nutritious. Budget-friendly cabbage is low-calorie source of fibre, minerals and vitamins A, C, K and B. Highlighted by saying I bought my head of cabbage late last week, it also stores well if kept in a tightly sealed plastic bag in your refrigerator crisper. Good reasons to keep some cabbage in stock at your home.

Prawn and Cabbage ­Stir Fry

Quick-cooking prawns tossed with stir-fried cabbage, other vegetables, peanuts (or cashews) and a flavourful sauce mixture.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: about seven minutes

Makes: two servings

2 Tbsp oyster sauce (see Eric’s options)

2 Tbsp water

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp rice vinegar, or to taste

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp sriracha or other smooth hot chili sauce, or to taste

10 to 12 large, raw prawns, peeled with tail portion left intact

1 Tbsp + 2 tsp vegetable oil

2 cups green cabbage, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1/2 medium red bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 small carrot, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced widthwise on the bias

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger

1 large green onion, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced, widthwise

3 Tbsp unsalted peanuts or cashews, coarsely chopped

Combine oyster sauce, water, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and sriracha in a bowl. Set mixture by your stove.

Pat prawns dry with paper towel, and then season lightly with salt and white pepper. Place 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp oil in a 10-inch or similar-sized skillet set over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the prawns and cook one minute per side, or until just cooked through. Lift prawns out of the skillet and set on a plate.

Add the cabbage, bell pepper and carrots to the skillet and stir-fry three minutes. Mix in the garlic and ginger and cook one minute more. Now add the oyster sauce mixture. Return the prawns to the skillet, along with the green onions and peanuts (or cashews). Heat prawns through one minute, and serve.

Eric’s options: Oyster sauce is sold in the Asian foods aisle of most supermarkets. If you don’t care for oyster sauce, replace it with 2 Tbsp of hoisin sauce, which is also sold at those stores.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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