If you think you’ve had enough cabbage to last until next winter, think again. Last weekend at the Orcas Island Farmers Market all the buzz was about the Arrowhead cabbage sold by Maple Rock Farm. You would think everyone would be excited about the sweet sugar snaps or the spring onions and they were, but these cabbages certainly caught my eye and evidently there were plenty of repeat customers back for more.
Their shape is obviously different from your normal run-of-the-mill cabbage and actually quite a challenge to photograph without making them look like some sort of alien. If you were to take away some of the more irritating aspects of cabbage and come up with an ideal variety, this would be it. First of all, they’re the perfect size, especially for a small family. Let’s face it, it’s hard to use up a big head of cabbage all at once unless you’re making sauerkraut. At the suggestion of the lovely woman from Maple Rock Farm, I cut one of these in two, drizzled it with olive oil, salt, pepper and scallions and roasted for about 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. I sprinkled some grated parmesan cheese on just before they were done.
The result was very light and lovely without any of the heaviness sometimes associated with cabbage. The best description of the taste I can come up with is buttery crunch — not at all tough, but a velvety texture. Mild, sweet, delicious.
And if that weren’t enough, I had one head left to make a spicy slaw I’ve wanted to try. I think my usual slaw is pretty darn good but this recipe may become the one I’ll make from now on. It has an Asian taste making it an excellent companion for my Japanese salmon burgers but I served it with simple pan-fried salmon and it was memorable. I was inspired by Jerry Traunfeld’s spicy cilantro slaw in The Herbal Kitchen. Oh, and no need to remove the outer leaves since the whole head is very tender so there’s hardly any waste except for the small core.
Spicy Arrowhead Cabbage Slaw
1 whole head of Arrowhead cabbage, sliced very thin, core removed
1 large carrot, grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1 t sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 t Sriracha sauce (Garlic chili sauce)
Toasted sesame oil
Whisk together mayo, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, soy sauce and Sriracha in a large bowl. Toss in remaining ingredients. Drizzle some toasted sesame oil on top. Refrigerate for at least an hour to wilt the cabbage and blend the flavors.
So, where do you find this wonderful cabbage if you don’t happen to be on Orcas Island? I’ve read that it’s showing up more and more in CSA boxes, but I’m not sure if that’s true in our area. The best bet seems to be to grow your own. The seeds aren’t that easy to come by but Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a variety called Caraflex they describe as cone-shaped, pointed mini cabbage. Start searching for Arrowheads — they’re well worth the hunt.