Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sarma

This is a dish from Eastern Europe - fantastic stick to the sides (and come away clean) sort of food that warms (and coats, no doubt) those chilly extremities. Otherwise known as cabbage rolls.

I have adjusted it slightly to account for the lack of desire to clogged arteries and a palate that can admire food without lots and lots of salt. Adjust back at will. Taught to me by my ex-mother-out-law and she begrudgingly admits that my version is edible (with a spoonful of salt sprinkled on top).

The ingredients are bolded, the what you do is in between - this recipe is an afternoon project so patience is more rewarded than organisational layout.

1-2 Soured Cabbages

First, you need soured cabbage.

If you have a fantastic deli that has a German or Yugoslav (I know they are separate - but they all have this ingredient - saves typing out the 50 different names, okay?) pedigree, you will be able to obtain full heads of sauerkraut cabbage.

For the rest of us: Boil whole sugarloaf cabbage(s) in water with a good splash of vinegar (remember to cut a cross in the stem for inner cooking) until it has wilted slightly on the outside but before you family threaten to leave home.

Peel the leaves off. The disgusting more mature outerleaves are used to line the pan, whereas the inner leaves are each used for the cabbage rolls. When they get too tiny, don't bother - the core and stem gets chopped to add to the saucy bits.

In a bowl, combine:

A kilogram or couple of pounds of minced meat. Baka prefers half beef and half pork, the Bosnian versions obviously don't use the pork bits and I (in my vegetarian days) did make it with minced veges. These days I tend towards Baka's version.

One grated white onion. Onion doesn't need to be white, but it does need very, very fine dicing or grating. Don't cry - to avoid tears, I never cut through the root until the very last minute. It doesn't always work, but it works better than the other methods tried.

A cup of rice Any sort, I suppose - Baka would use white, but Baka likes processing - she is a big fan of white bread, white flour and white rice. Considering what Tito and the communists achieved in Croatia it is understandable. I am from the soft underbelly of the West so I choose brown. It cooks for hours anyway, so that argument doesn't wash. Oh, but remember to wash the rice.

One egg Again, any colour - and its up to you how it enters the bowl.

Vegeta - or vegetable salt - I don't but if you like then go for the authentic stuff. Baka puts in a "good" teaspoon.

About 1/4 cup of sauerkraut - most supermarkets have it hidden somewhere - if not get it in - even the cheapest is good for this dish. You will need about a can for the whole recipe.

A slice of old bread Moisten it with water, squeeze it out and break it through the mix.

This mixture must be mixed by hand, through the fingers. You can add some bacon to the mix. You could add some anything you want, I suppose.

Roll the cabbage:

For larger leaves, cut in half along the spine. Even for the smaller leaves, the spine will need to be "thinned" to help in the rolling process.

Place in the palm of your hand. Put a spoonful of the mixture into the leaf. Fold up the bottom (harder) edge, roll from one end to the other then "tuck" the softer end in.

Line a large pan with the outer cabbage leaves. Put some sauerkraut and chopped cores and spines and then tightly pack the rolls seam side down. Keep layering these until all ingredients are used. If you have more mix than cabbage, tightly rolled mixture will hold. If you have more cabbage than mix just chop and add. Have a top layer of the outer cabbage leaves. Put a plate on this to hold it all down.

Pour water over the mix until it covers it all. Put a lid on it and boil on very low heat for a few hours. 20 minutes before serving, take some of the liquid and mix some a tablespoon of flour and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste into a paste and stir back into the mix. If there is not enough water, add some.

This is inspired by the fact that it is our dinner tonight AND this post from the Queen of Shake Shake

4 comments:

strauss said...

HAHA! Sour cabbage hey. A very appropriate link there Jeanie. You make me laugh.

Oh, The Joys said...

That actually sounds great!

amy said...

Thats a different idea!! Glad I stopped by today!

Scribbit said...

Oh how I wish I had some of this in front of me, I'd love to try it and see what it tastes like. I've never had sauerkraut or cabbage rolls and wonder if I'd like them. I tend to be pretty adventurous with food, I bet I'd like it.