|To match a Russian Feast...
to say this is the russian version of sauerkraut, isn't quite accurate... check it out
- I n g r e d i e n t s -
Cabbage - 1 medium head, 2 pounds in weight, use the typical one that is light green
Carrot - 2 medium, peeled Apple - 2 medium, tart variety, peeled and cored
Salt - 1 Tbs Bay Leaves - 2 small ones, broken in half
Black Peppercorns - 8 of them Caraway Seeds - 1/4 tsp Dill Seed - 1/4 tsp
Red Onion - about a third of it depending on size, thinly sliced
Sweetener - Agave Syrup, to taste
Canola Oil - Just a bit
- T o o l s -
Knife, Cutting Board, Peeler, Measuring spoons
Large Mixing Bowl, Half Gallon Wide-Mouth Jar, Cheese Cloth.
A brightly colored Serving Bowl and Serving Device
- T h e B i g P i c t u r e -
To quote Darra Goldstein, "Sour cabbage differs from sauerkraut in that it sits only long enough
to sour, not ferment, and so is easier to prepare. Sour cabbage salad is practically an institution
in the Soviet Union, garnishing meals at both lunch and dinner. Here I must break the taboo
against mentioning unappetizing food in cookbooks, for sour cabbage, as prepared in all too
many Soviet cafeterias, can be truly dismal. At its best, the salad is tart and refreshing. One
learns early on either to develop a taste for it (a wise idea, since other vegetables are few and far
between) or to successfully avoid it. The recipe given here is guaranteed foolproof, however,
and makes a salad to put any Soviet café to shame."
That's the background. I have not doubled this recipe for the party, so if you would like to do so,
then you will have some for your home use. The absolute minimum of time to do this will be 5
days, a relatively short time as compared to sauerkraut. This is because it is just the first stage of
the process without the prolonged fermentation. You do not need a yeast or bacteria starter for
this, the bugs will come with it. The recipe as stated will be enough appetizer for 20+ people.
- S h r e d d i n g a n d L a y e r i n g -
About a week before, shred the 2 pounds of Cabbage, the 2 medium Carrots peeled, and
the 2 medium tart Apples peeled and cored. This is best done in a cuisinart. Put all of the
shreddings into a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon of salt a little bit at a time
while tossing it. Let stand for 1 hour at room temperature, then squeeze the juice out through
a strainer, catching it all and reserving it. There should be more than a cup of the
expressed juice, make the volume up to 2 cups using chlorine-free water.
Place 1/4 of the shreddings in the half-gallon jar. On top of that, put 1/2 Bay Leaf,
2 Black Peppercorns, 2 Allspice berries, and one fourth of the Caraway and Dill Seed.
Continue this layering process until there are 4 layers. Poke any of the spices
under the surface of the shreddings.
- T h e P r o g r e s s i o n -
Pour the 2 cups of the reserved juice/water mixture into the jar and it should cover everything.
If not, don't worry about it. Cover the mouth of the jar with a couple layers of Cheese Cloth
and a rubber band, such that it will keep out any insects but not air. Let this stand at room
temperature for 4 days. You should notice a progression. First there will be small bubbles
which will get bigger and by the 3rd or 4th day they should start to bubble up every so often.
If you taste it, be very sanitary about it. Once the souring has occurred, put the lid
on the jar and refrigerate until the morning of the party.
- T o T h e A p p e t i z e r T a b l e -
The morning of the feast get out your jar and transfer the solids to a large mixing bowl.
Carrying over a little of the juice is fine. While transferring, take out the bay leaf halves as you
come across them, you can leave in the peppercorns and allspice berries if they are soft enough.
Try a few of them and if they are too much of a flavor blast, then pick out the ones that you see.
Slice some Red Onion, like about one half of a medium one, very thinly into little wedges rather
than rings, breaking the layers apart. Add just a bit of Canola Oil. Add your sweetener,
preferably Agave Syrup, but white sugar can be used in a pinch. The amount of sweetener is
not specified because you are adding just enough to take the edge off the souring and
it depends on how much everything soured. You are not trying to make a sweet & sour thing,
so just add a little, toss the onions and everything in and taste. Once adjusted, then transfer the
solids to your beautiful serving bowl. This does not really need any garnish, but if I was
going to use anything, it would be a few thinly sliced radishes around the edges.
You can put everything back into the refrigerator and get ready for the party.
We would like to thank Darra Goldstein
The author of At the Dacha, Russian Home Cooking
This book is out of print, and it must be loved because it's hard to find used ones,
but she has others. Go to Amazon.com and type in Darra Goldstein in the search box.
We have adapted her recipes here and there, but done under the watchful eye of Andy Zaharoff.
Bruce H. Rector made this dish and did the editing on the recipe.