I found another post-Halloween head in my fridge. Unlike last time this particular head was never part of a large fish, it was pulled from the loamy back yard of my friends ‘n co-workers Cara and Karlee and gifted to me. It is a head of cabbage, and it’s not alone. I still had half a head in there from our last trip to the Willows Market. That’s over ten pounds of cabbage total!
Now I’m more used to cooking with members of the Chinese cabbage family, which are on average much more delicate, sweet and melt away at the hint of heat and salt. I can steam or stir fry pretty much any Choy in big chunks, but not so with these two bowling balls… These Celtic cabbages need to be sliced super fine and require time ‘n technique to get ‘em soft ‘n sweet.
So in an effort to preserve as much brassica as possible I’ve busted out a couple boxes of randomly sized mason jars from the laundry room and dusted off every book on pickling and fermenting I’ve got. After salting half a head for kimchee I decided to try a couple new techniques, including this one from south of the boarder.
Curtido is a spicy pickled slaw from El Salvador that traditionally accompanies pupusas (cheese-stuffed corn cakes) packed into panes relleos (a type of hot, hoagie-style sandwich) or scattered atop fajitas. It’s a perfect pickle, and so dead simple that it made me hesitate to post it at all: just salted cabbage, chilli peppers, carrots and vinegar.
But one bite and I was leaping over cats to get to my computer chair and share with ya’ll. It’s that freakin good! Tart, salty, spicy yet perfectly balanced and deeply savoury. When I finally tire of the corporate cooking thing and buy a food truck like all the dorks my age I’m definitely making this recipe my go-to condiment.
Curtido (Fills 3x 500ml Mason jars)
- ½ Head of Green Cabbage (1kg-2/14 lbs, cored and sliced thin)
- 1 Medium Carrot (25g – ½ cup sliced thin)
- 1 Medium White Onion (230g – 8 oz sliced thin)
- 2 Red Serrano Chillies (7g – ¼ oz sliced thin, seeds ‘n all)
- 2 Tsp. (12g) Kosher Salt
- 1 cup (235ml) Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 cup (235ml) Water
- Combine the sliced cabbage, carrot, onion and chillies in a large non-reactive bowl and sprinkle in the salt. Mix well and let it sit at room temperature for about half an hour. The mix is ready to pickle once the cabbage is softened.
- Cleanse and sterilize your Mason Jars and lids in boiling water according to the manufacturer’s directions and set ‘em aside on a clean, dry surface. Pack the cabbage mix into the jars, leaving just a little space near the rim.
- Bring the water and vinegar to a simmer and carefully pour the still-hot liquid into the jar, filling it to about ½ inch from the rim. Expel any air bubbles in the jar by running a couple of clean wooden chopsticks between the vegetables and jar. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth and slap on the lid.
- Leave the jars to pickle at room temperature for at least a day or two (but preferably a week!) before opening. Remember that a properly sealed lid is depressed in the center and wont leak if the jar is flipped upside down. Without any pressure canning these pickles will stay good at room temp for about a month or so. Any open jars should be transferred to the fridge, where they will last an extra month.
Music to Can Cabbage to:
The Stone Roses – 20th Anniversary Special Edition