When I go to Asian restaurants, I always wish I could make their foods. Well, here is one that can be easily made!
Spring is here! In the Midwest, one of the first edible foods in nature is Burdock root. A great way to include burdock in your diet is to make a soup with the roots. Asian cooks rave about their burdock soups that they make in the spring. I’m presenting a burdock root soup here that is inspired by Rosalee de la Foret’s blog. Well, here is one dish that can be easily made! There is really nothing exotic about this soup, all the ingredients can be found here in the US.
As we transition from the winter into spring, it is important to pay attention to our digestion. Heavy foods in the winter might be clogging our livers that can lead to some dreaded health problems in the spring like fevers and tiredness. We tend to eat heavier foods during the winter months but now as our livers are waking up, our body is ready to embark on something lighter and easier to digest. The spring season is the time to attend to the liver and the gallbladder. Our body tends to cleanse itself naturally as we eat less. In addition, it is nice to add some bitter plants that aid the liver to accomplish this process. Our ancestors ate a lot of bitters in the spring. One of these spring bitters is burdock.
Burdock is a lovely plant. It has a distinct flavor. It is earthy, slightly sweet, and bitter. The bitter flavor is lacking in our diet today and is what our liver needs at this time. It cools and clears the stagnation that was caused by the heavier winter foods. Oh and one more … it is also aphrodisiac! So yes! … you can make it for your date dinner, too!
This soup works great in the spring. The burdock’s earthy, heavier flavor pairs nicely with the carrot’s sweet and light flavor. In addition to bitter flavor, the liver also needs the sour flavor that it gets from this sour dish as well. This soup is a big favorite in our family, yes even the kids like it. Perhaps it is because of its interesting, well balanced flavors. In fact, it has all five flavors: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and pungent!
1 qt (or more to well cover the vegetables) of home-made stock (vegetable or pork, beef, chicken, fish). For the meat stock recipe, please refer to my Stuffed Cabbage recipe.
1 cup of shredded burdock root (peeled and shredded through the largest holes of your grader) – if you don’t have it in your backyard, it is available at farmers’ markets, co-ops or also from Harmony Valley in Veroqua, WI.
2 cup of shredded carrot (peeled and shredded)
2 clove of garlic
1 Tbsp of minced ginger
2 handfuls of mushrooms (like morelle, shitake)
3 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 4 Tbsp of water
4 Tbsp of rice or white vinegar
2 lightly beaten egg yolks
1 Tbsp sesame oil
hard boiled eggs
hot red pepper or sriracha sauce (optional)
Bring stock to a boil.
Add carrots, Burdock roots, mushrooms, the crushed garlic and ginger. After it boils, turn it down to low medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Add vinegar and the cornstarch mixture. Keep stirring it becomes thick for about 2-3 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir egg yolk in gently. Add salt and hot red pepper (optional).
Serve in a deep bowl. Garnish with scallions and add soy sauce to taste.
You can add hard boiled eggs too. Bring some water in a pot to a boil and add the eggs at room temperature. Boil them for 7 and a half minutes. Take them out and put them into cold water. Peel and serv. If the eggs are cold, straight out of the fridge then the cooking time is 8 minutes.
I don’t think it is an accident that stuffed cabbage is a Christmas dish. You can surely serve it any time but it is the perfect dish for the holidays.
I smile every time I remember how my three year old daughter reacted when she saw stuffed cabbage on the Christmas table and screamed ‘YUCKY’. However, after she tried it she realized how delicious it was. Ever since then she makes sure that it is on the Christmas menu every year.
Stuffed cabbage is a popular winter dish in Hungary even though our ancestors didn’t make it. It is a dish that was inspired by the Turks and we started making it only after the Turkish invasion, in the 1600’s. They called it szárma from the Turkish word sarmak. However, many of us today can’t imagine Christmas without it. My mom made it every year.
I don’t think it is an accident that stuffed cabbage is a Christmas dish. You can surely serve it any time of the year but it is the perfect dish for the holidays. In the old days, families butchered their pigs and the meat was ready to be used by around this time. Also, there weren’t too many vegetables available except for a few like cabbage and onions. Not to mention that the dish can be kept in the cold for a couple of days. In fact, it tastes the best after a few days. This was an important consideration because Christmas went on for days back in the old times and according to traditional customs, women were not allowed to work during the celebrations.
The recipe is not too difficult, though it is a bit time-consuming. Just remember you won’t have to cook for 3 days afterwards! There are many variations of this recipe but this is how I make it. Please feel free to experiment with it.
What you need
1 -2 lb of beef bones (ox tail and beef bone)
2-3 Tbsp of black pepper corn. I like to add a lot of peppercorns because they give a really nice flavor to the dish. I used to add them to the pot with the stuffed cabbage. This is a minor correction to the original recipe because people were complaining that they were biting on the peppercorns regularly when they were eating the cabbages. This way, people can enjoy the the nice flavor but they don’t have to bite on the pepper corns. Of course, you can grind fresh peppercorn on the dish when serving too.
4 bay leaves
turnips, rutabaga (optional)
1 large onion
few cloves of garlic
1 celery stalk or the root
For the cabbage rolls:
high quality oil (lard, sunflower seed oil)
1 1/2 lbs of ground pork (can be half beef)
1 larger onion
1 heaping tsp Hungarian powdered paprika
2 slices of bacon (optional)
2 cloves of garlic
2 lb of saurkraut, drained
1 tsp of salt or more
1/2 cup of canned tomatoes
4 slices thin cut Pork chops (you can prepare separate or in the soup) (optional)
smoked meat like kielbasa, sausages (optional)
few strings of fresh thyme (optional)
1 cup of uncooked rice
1 cup of water to cook the rice in
1-2 heads of large Savoy cabbage or green cabbage or sour cabbage leaves (about 18-20 leaves)
4 garlic cloves,
ground black pepper
2 tsp of Hungarian sweet paprika
hot pepper to taste
To serve: Sour cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Hot paprika or Erös Pista to taste
Salt to taste
The day before you make the dish, prepare the meat stock. You just put all the ingredients together, bring to a boil, turn down and slowly cook for 8 hours.
Fill a larger pot with cold water and start boiling it. This will be used to soften the leaves. Omit if you have sour cabbage leaves.
Cook the rice in the water. Just add enough water so it can cook but will not get soft. You are pre-cooking the rice here, it will continue cooking in the stuffing.
While the rice is cooking, start preparing the base of the dish. Sauté some onion in some oil, add bacon if you desire and cook for 5-10 minute or until the onion looks nicely transulant and the bacon is crisp. Add paprika, stir and add a little cold liquid (have it ready) and stir. Add 1 lb of the sour kraut and mix. I also like to add some meat, sausages to the dish. It is especially nice to add some smoked meat.
Prepare the stuffing. Mix all ingredients (the half cooked rice, sautéed onion, paprika, black pepper, garlic cloves, salt, marjoram, eggs and the meat) together.
Take the leaves off the cabbage gently one by one. Put the leaves in the boiling water (from step 2) for 1 minute or until they are soft.
Fill the cabbage leaves in the middle with about 1 heaping tablespoon of stuffing or more if leaf is bigger and fold them on all four sides so the stuffing is tucked inside the leaves nicely. Be careful you don’t fold them too tight because the mixture will expand a little. You can close the leaves with a toothpick if you want but it is really not necessary. This may sound like a difficult task but really what you do here is you tuck the filling inside the leaves and fold each side onto the stuffing so it is nested inside the leaves.
You can just lay the stuffed leaves on the bottom of the pot one by one next to each other pot, place the rest of the sour-kraut on top of the stuffed cabbage.
Pour the meat stock that you made the day before into the pot. Bring the whole dish to a boil and turn down and cook on very low heat slowly for 1 ½ hours.
Meanwhile you can prepare the pork chops. I like to serve some meat on the side so people who like a lot of meat or prefer not to have the stuffed cabbage can have some meat. Brown pork chops on both sides and a little white wine, bay leaves, and spices. Cook for 1 hour.
When done, take cabbages out one by one and place them on a serving plate. Then place the sour kraut mixture on the top and pour liquid over the dish. Serve the sour cream on top. Grind some fresh black pepper and add hot paprika to taste.