It Looks Like Hell, But…

Don't let the blackened appearance keep you from trying this incredible charred cabbage dish.
Don’t let the blackened appearance keep you from trying this incredible charred cabbage dish.

…Yes, it tastes like pure heaven.

Consider this the ultimate ugly-delicious dish.

“Charred Cabbage with Miso and Lime” is by Portland, OR chef Jenn Louis. It’s from her cookbook, “The Book of Greens: A Cook’s Compendium of 40 Varieties, from Arugula to Watercress, with More Than 175 Recipes” (Ten Speed Press, 2017).

I love deeply charred cabbage because hitting it with fierce heat brings out its inherent sweetness as it caramelizes.

As such, I’m always looking for new ways to flavor it. This one especially appealed at this time because all it takes is red miso, butter, and lime — all of which I had handy already, which is no small miracle these days.

This recipe was originally intended for one green cabbage, cut into 8 wedges, and cooked in two pans. I actually used an arrowhead cabbage, an heirloom variety, that’s indeed shaped like a pointy arrowhead or cone. Grown by Pescadero’s Fifth Crow Farm, it tastes like green cabbage, but is just a tad sweeter.

After laying my lucky hands on one in my GoodEggs delivery, I couldn’t wait to put it to use in this recipe.

Because of the shape of this particular cabbage, I ended up cutting it into fourths, and was able to fit all the wedges in one large oven-proof saute pan.

A gorgeous arrowhead cabbage.
A gorgeous arrowhead cabbage.

It gets seared on high heat on the stovetop, before going into a hot oven. After a few minutes, smear on the paste made of just butter mashed with red miso, before returning it to the oven to cook until softened.

The recipe states to baste the cabbage at regular intervals with the butter as it melts. I found that my paste was fairly thick, so I never ended up with a pool of butter at the bottom of the pan with which to baste. Instead, I merely smeared the paste more thoroughly over the cabbage with a butter knife as it began to melt more and more. The recipe also says to add a pinch of salt twice, but I found that the miso had enough saltiness so that extra salt wasn’t needed.

One large pan will hold a quartered arrowhead cabbage, but you will probably need two pans for one green cabbage.
One large pan will hold a quartered arrowhead cabbage, but you will probably need two pans for one green cabbage.

This recipe turns mild-mannered cabbage into super-hunk cabbage. The sweet cabbage gets done up with a big dose of briny, pungent, funky, rich and fermented flavors. The taste reminded me very much of Chinese black bean sauce. A squeeze of lime adds a fresh, zingy brightness.

It just goes to prove that looks aren’t everything.

Sweet and so savory tasting.
Sweet and so savory tasting.

Charred Cabbage with Miso and Lime

(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons red miso

1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil, plus more as needed

1 green cabbage, about 1 1/4 pounds, cut into 8 wedges with core intact (see Note)

Kosher salt (optional)

1 lime, cut into wedges

Flaky sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the butter and miso until combined. Set aside.

Over high heat, warm ¼ cup of the oil in each of two large cast-iron or other ovenproof sauté pans. When very hot, place half of the cabbage wedges, cut side down, in each pan. Do not overcrowd the pans. Leave the cabbage wedges in the pans without turning until the cut sides are charred and lightly blackened, about 3 minutes. If the oil is absorbed by the cabbage and the pan appears dry, add more oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the pan is lightly coated.

When lightly charred, turn the cabbage wedges cut side up and spread the miso butter on the cut sides, dividing it evenly. 

Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the color matches the first side. When seared on both sides, place the pans with the cabbage in the preheated oven.

Using a spoon, baste every 5 minutes with melted butter from the bottom of the pan. (Or use a butter knife to smear the melting mixture all along the cabbage.) After 10 minutes, season lightly with kosher salt on both sides, if you like. The total roasting time should be about 20 minutes, and the cabbage should be very tender and charred.

Remove the cabbage from the oven, sprinkle with the flaky salt, if desired, and squeeze the lime wedges over the top. Serve immediately.

Note: If using one large arrowhead cabbage, cut into fourths with the core intact. Place in one large saute pan or two smaller ones, using 1/4 cup vegetable oil in the bottom of each pan.

Adapted From “The Book of Greens” by Jenn Louis

Another Charred Cabbage Recipe to Try: Roasted Savoy Cabbage Wedges, Caesar-Style

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  • Carolyn, Did you make it with red miso? I’ve just got shiro and awase miso right now. Aka miso is generally too “strong” for me…

  • I think I’ll try this even though I didn’t love grilled romaine when it was all the craze…. but I think since cabbage is heartier, it would hold up better!

  • Charred cabbage is magical stuff — love its flavor. This recipe is way different from how I usually prepare it. I gotta try this — looks terrific. Thanks!

  • Caroline: I, too, have tried grilled romaine, and while I liked it, I think charred cabbage is way better. It does hold up better, and it gets much sweeter. Try it and let me know what you think.

  • Suzy: I did use red miso. But this recipe would probably work well with any type of miso. Charred cabbage takes to so many flavors — even just simple olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little Parmesan. You basically can’t go wrong. Enjoy! 😉

  • Yum, I love anything charred. Me man. Me like fire. Haha.

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