Sunny and bright-tasting, this refrigerator pickle has subtle notes of lemon grass.
Make Ahead: It can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.
Servings: 11 cups
- 1 large head napa cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds)
- 3 tablespoons sea salt
- 1 fresh chili pepper of your choice, stemmed, seeded and minced
- 4 scallions, white and light-green parts, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
- 1 1/3 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2- to 3-inch piece peeled ginger root, freshly grated (2 tablespoons)
- 4 stalks lemon grass (outer leaves discarded), minced
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce (may substitute 1 teaspoon salt)
- Several dashes of your favorite hot sauce
Core the cabbage and discard any discolored outer leaves, then cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters. Cut the quarters crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Transfer the pieces to a large, nonreactive bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons of the salt, chili pepper and scallions until well blended. Place a weighted plate on top of the mixture and let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Rinse and drain; squeeze out as much liquid as possible, returning the cabbage to the (empty) bowl.
Combine the sugar, water, lime juice, the remaining tablespoon of salt and the vinegar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt, then remove from the heat. Let cool for 10 minutes before using.
Combine the lime zest, turmeric, ginger, lemon grass and garlic in a blender, along with 1/2 cup of the warm vinegar mixture. Puree, adding more of the liquid as needed to achieve a smooth consistency. Add the remaining mixture and pulse several times to combine, then pour over the drained cabbage. Add fish sauce and hot sauce, and toss to mix well.
Cool to room temperature. Serve right away, or cover in airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.
Adapted from Casey Gustowarow of Sunnyside Farm and Orchard in Rappahannock County.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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