Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, and I forgot to wear green. I didn’t even get to eat my favorite boiled corned beef dinner with mustard (sniff, sniff). I will, however, make up for it today by picking up a Ruben sandwich for lunch, I think. My husband is part Irish (I am not), and he detests cabbage (I do not). This tends to present monumental, but infrequent problems when, for example, we pick up our favorite fried chicken and cannot decide whether to get cole slaw with the mashed potatoes or stale greasy bisquits – or whether to eat a boiled dinner on St. Paddy’s Day.
I can’t say that I’ve ever really craved cabbage, but I have on occasion fixated on one particularly simple, but oh-so-comforting, meal from my childhood – Kalua pork and cabbage. This is a dinner that is fast, easy, and inexpensive – three essentials of a perfect weeknight meal. You can find Kalua pork at nearly any grocery store in Hawaii, and also (if you happen to be in the San Francisco bay area), in the freezer section of Tokyo Fish Market. (You may also make your own Kalua pork with a boneless pork butt and liquid smoke. More on that in a future post.)In this little canister (or even if you make your own Kalua pork), you will discover a method of cooking that produces a meat that is succulent and tender, with a rich, earthy flavor.To prepare Kalua pork and cabbage, simply defrost the pork and pan fry it in a medium-size saute pan over medium heat. Do not add any oil to the pan; the pork has enough fat in it to keep it flavorful and to keep it from sticking.While the pork is heating, slice the cabbage into strips, about 3/4″ wide. Wash and dry the cabbage (I use a salad spinner). You’ll be stir-frying the cabbage with the pork, and you don’t want any water splattering about in the hot pan or diluting the pork’s flavor. In order to cut down on the cooking time for the cabbage, my Grandma B. recommends microwaving the cabbage on high for about three minutes before adding it to the pan. This will save you dividends on cooking time over the stove, as well as the inconvenience of having to wrestle with raw cabbage in a shallow saute pan. Add the cabbage to the pork, and stir together until heated through.The Kalua pork will impart a rich, smokey flavor to the cabbage, and the pork’s dense meat contrasts well against the thick, chewy cabbage. Serve this over hot rice. Once it’s plated, I like to top everything off with a large dollop of yellow mustard. Perhaps not for the cabbage-averse, but for the rest of us, this is local homestyle cooking at its best – comforting, hearty, and uncomplicated.
AboutI like Zip mins, spam musubi, and the butterfish misoyaki at The Cal. I've never been a fan of the loco moco but, now that I'm 3000 miles from my hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii, nearly everything from the islands makes me salivate. I currently live (and cook) in the San Francisco bay area, and have inevitably fallen in with "buying local" and organically-grown foods. I enjoy recreating the foods I grew up with - recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation in my family. And, as a working home cook, I try to prepare a lot of fast and healthful meals. Part recipe book, part cultural memoire, and travel journal, here is where I document all of my gastronomical experiences. I think of my kitchen as a blend of past and present, and I believe that where we call home is what we serve on our plates.