The other day I walked by an older woman in the grocery store who was staring at the spice section. She was on the phone, and I overheard her say, "Now I've just got to figure out what 'lime zest' is!" I quickly spoke up, realizing she was never going to be able to hunt that one down, and explained how to use a fine grater on the peel of the lime to get the zest. It really is an odd ingredient if you are not used to it!
I think at some point we've all had to do a Google search to figure out how to cut or prepare some new ingredient for a recipe! One I often think about is shredded cabbage, because I use it so often in my Asian recipes. I can just picture some poor soul pulling out a big cheese grater, grumbling as it takes forever to shred four cups worth. The name can be a little confusing, since you really just need to slice it into little strips. Here's what I do...
Break off and discard any dirty outside leaves. Cut off a chunk to the side of the stem. This is usually a little tall, so I slice it in half for shorter shreds.
Then slice these pieces into small strips, about 1/8-1/4". Soon you will have handfuls of shredded cabbage!
If you are going to use the whole cabbage at once, you can cut it into quarters and cut the stem out first like this. I usually only need a few cups at a time, so I like cutting off sections instead. If I need a little more I can trim off a tiny bit, or a big hunk if I need a few more cups. The remaining head stays fresh longer and takes up less space than leftover shreds would if you cut the whole thing.
Savoy via Wikia, Napa via Harvest to Table
Savoy vs. Napa Cabbage ~
Both of these cabbages have leaves that are a little thinner and more wrinkly than your standard green cabbage. I use either one in Asian dishes interchangeably. Originally I always bought napa, which you can easily shred by chopping off the bottom 1/3rd, cut in half (or quarter) lengthwise, and then slice into strips. But then I noticed our store at the time charged the same amount per pound for the savoy and napa. Since I was discarding over 1/3rd of the napa, I figured I was getting a better deal buying savoy, and I can usually find smallish ones that I can use up easier. Just grab whichever you can find, or whichever is cheaper, and you are good to go!
Here are a few recipes that use shredded cabbage ~
Very Veggie Soup
Chicken & Mushroom Chow Mein
Thai Red Curry Soup
Chicken Satay Noodle Soup
And I'll have a new recipe that uses savoy for you on Thursday!