Purple Reigns

Chef Eric Ripert turns everyday cabbage into something special.
Chef Eric Ripert turns everyday cabbage into something special.

Leave it to Chef Eric Ripert to turn purple cabbage from pauper to prince.

Yes, in the hands of this gifted Michelin three-starred chef, this lowly veg shines as royalty on the plate.

“Soy-Glazed Red Cabbage” is one of the star recipes in his newest cookbook, “Vegetable Simple” (Random House), of which I received a review copy.

As the long-time chef and co-owner of the venerable Le Bernardin in New York, Ripert has honed the magic touch with seafood. Now, he applies that same exquisite care to vegetables in recipes that are truly simple. In fact, most of them call for just a handful of ingredients along with three to six paragraphs of directions.

You will salivate without feeling the least bit intimidated when you come across recipes such as “End of Summer Tomato ‘Tea’,” Warm Potato, Goat Cheese Parfaits,” “Curried Brussels Sprouts,” and “Corn Cake, Blueberry Compote.”

Wedges of purple cabbage cook in a saute pan on the stove-top with a little water and butter, like making glazed carrots. OK, maybe more than a little butter; more like half a stick. But hey, you can’t fault a Frenchman for that.

When the cabbage is tender, a splash of sherry vinegar goes into the pan. Then, the wedges are brushed with soy sauce.

What you get is brilliantly hued cabbage, all soft and melty with its natural sugars heightened. The butter turns it beautifully glossy looking while imparting a lush silkiness to the whole dish. And the soy sauce and vinegar layer on the merest touch of brininess and fruity zing.

From humble to fancy — in a flash.

Taking purple cabbage beyond the usual coleslaw.
Taking purple cabbage beyond the usual coleslaw.

Soy-Glazed Red Cabbage

(Serves 4)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1 red cabbage, cut through the core into 8 wedges

Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

2 tablespoons aged sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

In a large saute pan, bring 1/2 cup water and the butter to a simmer. Season each cabbage wedge with salt and white pepper and add to the pan, cover with foil, and cook for 20 minutes.

Flip the wedges over and cook until the water has evaporated and the cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Add the sherry vinegar, flipping the cabbage once more to coat. Cook until the vinegar is reduced by half.

Remove from the heat and, using a pastry brush, brush each wedge with soy sauce and let caramelize in the hot pan for 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

From “Vegetable Simple” by Eric Ripert

Another Eric Ripert Recipe to Enjoy: Sauteed Shiitake Mushrooms with Sage

Plus: My Classic Interview with Eric Ripert

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  • I reverse-engineered a red cabbage “shank” that I read about. Braised the cabbage for an hour in a broth I made from caramelized onions, pomegranate molasses and a bouquet garni. Then roasted it with butter at low temperature for 2 hours. It is amazing and meat-like and the braising broth is a great soup base.

  • Red cabbage is an under appreciated vegetable. Thanks for sharing the chef’s recipe.

  • Hi Pat: Wow, that sounds amazing! I especially love the use of the pomegranate molasses. I bet that cabbage “shank” was incredible.

  • Hi Karen: Cabbage is the Rodney Dangerfield of veggies, isn’t it? The pandemic has really made me appreciate it so much more, especially because it keeps for weeks in the fridge, and can be used in so many ways.

  • Wow. So gorgeous, so flavorful. Wonderful recipe, and it sounds like a wonderful book, too. Thanks.

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