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RCP: Cabbage Wellington

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RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Paul Winalski » Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:38 pm

Virginia Lee, who wrote The Chinese Cookbook along with Craig Claiborne, was inspired to create this dish when she first came to America and was served Beef Wellington. She named it after her friend, the Chinese diplomat Wellington Koo.

Pastry:
5 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 cup lard
1 TBS salt
1-1/4 cups cold water
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 TBS water for glaze (optional)

Filling:
1 head napa cabbage (3-1/4 to 3-1/2 pounds)
2 large sheets caul fat
1 TBS salt

Sauce:
6 TBS light soy sauce
3 TBS red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp sugar
3 tsp sesame oil
hot oil to taste (optional)
3-6 TBS finely diced hot green peppers (optional)

1. Place the flour in a bowl and add the lard and salt. Blend until it has the texture of coarse cornmeal. Gradually add the water and knead until tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Shape the dough into a ball, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 400 F.

4. Pull off and discard the tough outer leaves of the cabbage. Trim off a thin slice of the base. Make two cross-shaped incisions about 2 inches deep in the base of the cabbage.

5. Flatten the pastry into a square and roll it out into a rectangle large enough to cover the cabbage completely. It can be a bit thicker in the center than on the sides.

6. Cover the pastry with one layer of caul fat. Place the cabbage in the center. Sprinkle the top of the cabbage with 1 TBS of salt. Bring up the edges of the caul fat to totally enclose the cabbage, then bring up the pastry edges. Fold one edge over the other from each direction to completely enclose the cabbage. Pinch the edges together to seal well, as tightly and closely as possible. Prick 6 holes along the length of the pastry with a skewer. Decorate the pastry with cutout dough if you wish.

7. Line a jelly-roll pan with another layer of caul fat and place the filled pastry on top. Bake for one hour, then reduce the heat to 300 F and bake another two hours. Brush the pastry with the egg yolk mixture during the last hour of baking if you wish.

8. Make the sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl and stirring to blend well.

9. Crack open the top of the pastry and serve the cabbage, spooning over a little of the sauce.

NOTES:

Disclaimer: I have never made this dish myself.

The longer, thinner celery cabbage can be substituted for napa cabbage.

Caul fat is the lacy layer of fat lining the pig's abdomen. I've never seen it for sale, let alone used it. Were I making this dish, I'd coat the cabbage and the jelly roll pan with vegetable oil.

-Paul W.
Last edited by Paul Winalski on Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Peter May » Thu Jan 02, 2020 7:47 am

Paul Winalski wrote:One could probably substitute napa cabbage for celery cabbage.


I've never heard of celery cabbage so I googled it and Wiki and other US sources all say that napa cabbage (another one I've not heard of) is a synonym for celery cabbage because Napa was the first place it was planted in the USA.
https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-celery-cabbage.htm

In the UK I believe its called Chines Cabbage, But the BBC food site adds confusion
Also called Chinese leaves, Chinese cabbage has pale, tightly wrapped, succulent leaves with crisp, broad, white ribs and a delicate, mild, sweet flavour. There are two basic types of Chinese cabbage: firm-headed and loose-headed. The firm-headed group is further divided into the short, barrel-shaped variety (sometimes called Napa cabbage), and taller cylindrical cabbages.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/chinese_cabbage
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Dale Williams » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:57 am

Napa (or Nappa) is the Japanese name for the cabbage, I don't think it has anything to do with the CA wine valley.
And japanese pronunciation is different (nah pah, no stress)
Recipe looks good, thanks
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Peter May » Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:21 pm

Dale Williams wrote:Napa (or Nappa) is the Japanese name for the cabbage, I don't think it has anything to do with the CA wine valley.


Looks like the self proclaimed 'Wise Geek' isn't wise :)

Thanks for the correction.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Paul Winalski » Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:46 pm

These days it appears that celery cabbage and napa cabbage are synonyms. Back in the 1970s, when I first started Chinese cooking and when The Chinese Cookbook was published, US markets carried two types of Chinese cabbage. There was bok choy, which has dark green, loose leaves, and celery cabbage, which has paler leaves tightly packed. Then napa (or nappa) cabbage came along. It is like a stubbier version of celery cabbage. Either could be used for Cabbage Wellington.

Here is a picture of celery cabbage:

celery_cabbage.jpg
celery_cabbage.jpg (8.91 KiB) Viewed 2097 times


And here is napa cabbage:

napa_cabbage.jpg
napa_cabbage.jpg (13.93 KiB) Viewed 2097 times


Very similar, as you can see. What you don't want is bok choy or Chinese flat cabbage, which looks like a conventional cabbage head that's been stepped on.

-Paul W.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Peter May » Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:27 pm

So Many posts about a dish no-one has cooked.

I reckon the honour should go to Paul!

I read that this cabbage readily absorbs flavours, so I assume the reason for wrapping it in caul is to get its flavour. As caul is not readily available, what about substituting bacon (ummm) or ham?
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Paul Winalski » Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:34 pm

We software engineers have a saying: "When all else fails, read the documentation."

At the back of The Chinese Cookbook is a section describing Chinese ingredients. The entry for "celery cabbage" reads, in part:

"The kind usually available in Chinese markets is rounder and fatter than a long, thin variety often found in supermarkets."

The fatter variety is napa cabbage. The long, thin variety is what used to be sold as "Chinese cabbage" or "celery cabbage" in US supermarkets. Celery cabbage heads are about the same size and shape as large celery heads. Napa cabbage is stouter and the leaves are more tightly wrapped. The book was published in 1972. I haven't seen celery cabbage in local groceries in quite a while. Napa cabbage has supplanted it.

Craig Claiborne goes on to say that the two varieties are interchangeable in the recipes. So napa cabbage would be the more authentic type; the recipes say "celery cabbage" mainly because that was what was readily available at the time in US supermarkets. I'm going to amend the recipe to specify napa cabbage, with celery cabbage as an alternative.

-Paul W.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Paul Winalski » Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:38 pm

Pork belly (fresh bacon) is probably closer to caul fat than smoked or cured bacon or ham, but I'm never one to say no to bacon flavor in a dish.

-Paul W.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by DanS » Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:36 pm

Peter May wrote:I read that this cabbage readily absorbs flavours, so I assume the reason for wrapping it in caul is to get its flavour. As caul is not readily available, what about substituting bacon (ummm) or ham?


Caul fat is very neutral in flavor. There really isn't a pronounced pork or bacon flavor. Most uses of caul fat is to keep something from falling apart. I would say that if you don't have a source for it, omit it.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Paul Winalski » Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:20 pm

I think the caul fat is there to keep the pastry from sticking to the cabbage, so that you don't get a mess when you crack it open to serve. The foie gras or duxelles or pate serves this function in Beef Wellington. Similarly the second piece of caul fat prevents the Wellington from sticking to the baking pan.

-Paul W.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Jenise » Sat Jan 04, 2020 10:27 pm

And the caul fat would add...fat! Probably helpful in flavor and texture though I agree with Dans it's neutral. Simply rubbing the outer leaves with a bit of neutral oil will probably achieve similar result.

Note to Peter May: nappa cabbage, or Chinese leaves as you accurately have discovered is a typical Brit name for same, is the cabbage ingredient in Kim Chee, just for instance.

Paul--never heard of celery cabbage, always been Nappa (or Napa) here on the West Coast. Thanks so much for posting this recipe!

On the subject of nappa cabbage, it is GREAT in salads. I use it, thinly chiffonaded, as the primary or only lettuce-ish ingredient in cobb salads. Also make other slaw-like salads with it. It's a little sweet and has a great radishy kind of sharpness.

And another thing: I've never considered stuffing nappa cabbage leaves. That suddenly sounds like an idea to work with.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Barb Downunder » Sun Jan 05, 2020 2:41 am

Paul, your post sent me to the shelves to revisit the book.
I note a discrepancy, you list 3 cups flour and the book 5 cups. All other ingredients are the same. This might be the scientist in me on auto check. :)
I have not made the dish but over many years the recipes in the book have served me well.

The discussion on cabbage has been interesting, it may be that when I first purchased this book the celery cabbage reference put it in the too hard basket. No idea what it was and there weren’t no internet.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Paul Winalski » Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:55 pm

Thanks, Barb, for finding the typo. It indeed should be 5 cups of flour. I've corrected the posting.

Culinary terms can vary from country to country. Here are some differences I've noticed between Australia and the USA:

o Entree. In Australia this refers to a preliminary course in a meal, as it does in France, where the word originated. In the US, "entree" means "main course". We use the term "appetizer" for what you call an "entree" and the British call a "starter".

o The leafy vegetable you call "rocket" is "arugula" in the US.

o Spatchcock. In Australia this means a young chicken (poussin). In the US, it's a preparation process--removing the backbone and flattening the bird. "To butterfly" is a synonym.

-Paul W.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Jeff Grossman » Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:33 pm

I'm a little confused: I thought "to butterfly" means to remove the backbone and press the bird flat while "to spatchcock" means to split the breast and press the bird flat.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Peter May » Mon Jan 06, 2020 11:52 am

Paul Winalski wrote:
o Entree. In Australia this refers to a preliminary course in a meal, as it does in France, where the word originated. In the US, "entree" means "main course". We use the term "appetizer" for what you call an "entree" and the British call a "starter".


The US use of 'entree' certainly puzzled me when I first went there

I worked out arugula was rocket because it had distinctive leaves and taste. Took longer to learns that cilantro was coriander (in UK we use coriander for the herb, i.e. stalks and leaves, and coriander seeds for the spice.)

Broil is another term not used in UK, where grill is used whether heat source is above (usual method) or below
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Jenise » Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:57 pm

Jeff Grossman wrote:I'm a little confused: I thought "to butterfly" means to remove the backbone and press the bird flat while "to spatchcock" means to split the breast and press the bird flat.


In general use, I believe both apply. You may also 'butterfly' a thick piece of small diameter fish to make a larger piece, say, where no backbone is involved whatsoever.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Paul Winalski » Mon Jan 06, 2020 4:38 pm

Peter May wrote:Took longer to learns that cilantro was coriander (in UK we use coriander for the herb, i.e. stalks and leaves, and coriander seeds for the spice.)


Cilantro is the Spanish term. Coriander leaves became popular in the US via Mexican food, especially salsa. I imagine that they made their way to the UK via Indian cuisine.

-Paul W.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Jenise » Mon Jan 06, 2020 7:09 pm

Paul, to my knowledge I'd never had cilantro prior to finding it in the salsa at an El Torito restuarant in Southern California, a good chain that became extremely popular in the 70's.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Paul Winalski » Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:05 pm

I was introduced to cilantro via Chinese cuisine. For a while I had to grow my own from coriander seeds. The plants tended to flower and go to seed rather quickly. I was delighted when cilantro started showing up in supermarkets.

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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Dale Williams » Tue Jan 07, 2020 5:14 pm

Jeff Grossman wrote:I'm a little confused: I thought "to butterfly" means to remove the backbone and press the bird flat while "to spatchcock" means to split the breast and press the bird flat.


Jeff I've never seen an instruction for spatchcocking that didn't involve taking out the backbone, flipping, and then pressing hard on the breast to break the bone and flatten. If you split breast but left attached unsure what would be gained from a cooking standpoint.

To be butterfly to me is a more general term (cut to flatten for faster/more even cooking). Spatchcock would be a subset of butterfly. Mostly I use term butterfly for leg of lamb, but have butterflied super-jumbo shrimp, chicken breast before pounding, etc.
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Re: RCP: Cabbage Wellington

by Jeff Grossman » Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:07 pm

Thanks for the clarifications. As to how it works when split in front, well, you split in front and then press down to flatten it out; no different than always. Chicken under a brick, basically.

Yes, I've certainly butterflied leg of lamb and jumbo crustaceans.

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