It's okay to consume and safe to eat cabbage leaves. Before using or eating cabbage leaves, they should be well washed to remove any dirt or insect traces.
You just got home from the vegetable market, and among your collection of fruits and veggies was a shiny, round cabbage that was begging to be chopped into coleslaw or added to your favourite Chinese meal. When cooking cabbage, most people tend to snap off the outer leaves, which are not only a little tougher but may also have some blemishes or dirt. This is unfortunate for the environment and your budget. But is this step truly required?
The next time you're preparing the cabbage, you might want to try using those "leftover" leaves in the spirit of root-to-stem cooking. Here are five ways to repurpose outer cabbage leaves so you don't have to throw them in the compost and cut down on kitchen waste.
Make stuffed cabbage
A warm, filling dish like stuffed cabbage is ideal for a chilly winter evening. Stuffed cabbage, also known as cabbage rolls, is a common dish in Central and Eastern European cuisines. Because the dish braises for a long period, the tough outer cabbage leaves might become tender. To get the finest results, parboil the leaves for a few minutes, remove the stem, and then roll them up in a tasty filling that typically consists of ground pork, rice, and fresh herbs.
Make kimchi or sauerkraut
Those of you who have made homemade kimchi or sauerkraut, both of which use salt as a fermenting agent, know that after you chop, salt, and pack the cabbage into the fermentation vessel, you must place something on top to keep it beneath the brine so it can pickle. The next time you make kimchi or kraut, set aside a few of the outer cabbage leaves, then tuck them over the salted vegetables after you've put them in the containers where they'll ferment.
Make spicy Japanese cabbage
Actually, tough outer cabbage leaves are ideal for a sweet-and-spicy cabbage dish that may be prepared to go with sake or other alcoholic beverages. Sakana cuisine, which refers to these tiny appetisers and side dishes, has a variety of textures, including rubbery, chewy, and rough. Japanese spicy cabbage is prepared by simmering chopped, deveined outer cabbage leaves in a sauce comprised of sake, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, chilli garlic sauce, and sesame seeds.
Make cabbage soup or stew
Cabbage frequently appears in soups and stews, including Korean baechu guk with ginger and scallions, French soupe au chou, and beef and potato stew. Although the softer inner leaves of the cabbage are normally used in these recipes, the outer leaves can also be used because they will have enough time to cook and soften. Remove any rough veins, carefully cut the leaves, and add them to the dishes that have been simmering for a while. As they cook, the leaves will pleasantly tenderize.
Every dish, from grilled chicken to sticky ribs, benefits from the addition of coleslaw, a traditional side dish often made with shredded cabbage and other vegetables. Whatever version appeals to your palate, whether it is a traditional mayo-based slaw or a fiery Asian slaw made with chile paste and rice vinegar, works well for bending stiff cabbage leaves. The acid and salt in the dressing helps to tenderise the veggies as they sit. Just be sure to finely shred them and give the side dish a little longer marinating time when adding outer cabbage leaves to a slaw.