Previously on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
Back when my wife moved in with me, I decided to start making all sorts of dishes that she’d never seen before. On one occasion I was feeling daring and decided to try and make the Baked Cabbage With White Truffle (using Nappa Cabbage) from Nobu West (p. 126) The online recipe can be found here –
The one comment I got at the time (and was when I found out about her reaction to heated butter) was that she felt there was too much of a butter presence in the dish. With that flavor exception, she was delighted with the dish. It’s been a while since I re-made that dish; but with the arrival of Nobu’s vegetarian cookbook (p.69), I noticed a few minor changes that made me think, “let’s try this again”. Basically, the obvious changes were the replacement of the butter with olive oil and omission of baking the cabbage covered in foil (baked without the foil now).
So I decided dinner this past Saturday would be salmon-toro tobanyaki and the baked cabbage. So at market, I got a small ~2 lb head of cabbage. When I got it home, I split the cabbage in half (saved one half in the refridgerator) and split the remaning half. Of the cabbage wedges, I carefully cut out triangular like solid core from the each cabbage wedge.
After lining a baking sheet, I poured a little olive oil over the sheet and wiped-smeared the cut sides of the cabbage wedges in the oil and then smeared the outer leaves. I sort of figured that oiling the cabbage wedges would help make the salt/pepper seasoning ‘stick’.
Now Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook calls for about 3 tablespoons (or 1 1/2 oz) of olive oil to drizzle over the cabbage wedges. I’m pretty sure I used close to double that amount when I poured the olive oil onto the baking sheet to wipe/smear the oil on the cabbage. I chose to go this route remembering how I did this dish the last time based on the Nobu West directions. At that time, I felt that the melted clarified butter wasn’t distributed evenly (and during the tasting, there were times the butter flavor might have seemed too strong).
For each of the wedges, I dusted them with about 3 3-finger pinches of 4:1 salt/pepper mix and moved them to a waiting baking pan and waiting oven (preheated to 450 degrees F [interestingly, Nobu’s vegetarian cookbook version calls for 430 degrees F]).
Just before the wedges went to the oven, the cabbages got a ‘sprinkling’ of about 3 tablespoons of sake. I set the timer for 10 minutes (the recipe suggests that 10 minutes would be a check for doneness). At 10 minutes I took a quick check and didn’t see any of the expected caramelization/browning, so I popped the wedges back in for another 5 minutes to finish (and as Nobu observes:The best rule is to watch the food and not the clock! The smell and feel wil tell when it’s done to perfection).
While waiting for the cabbages to finish cooking, I got out a small bottle of Urbani summer truffles and carefully cut them into as thin slices as possible.
Getting the truffles sliced up went fine, but I think my knife needs a re-sharpening this weekend. So once the cabbage wedges were done, I got them moved to their serving plates and starting placing truffle slices on them. Because I couldn’t get truffle salt for this dish, I went from drops of white truffle oil to 3 teaspoons of the truffle oil to compensate.
The baked cabbage served as an ‘appetizer’ for this meal and my wife said that she vastly preferred the version from Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook to the butter variant in Nobu West. I think if I had to do this again, I would re-use the procedural step in covering the baking tray at the start of cooking and then checking the baking tray after 10 minutes.