Tofu and Sauerkraut Salad
By Michelle Chang
Michelle Chang was born in Taiwan in 1967. In 2012, she moved to France, and in 2017, opened her restaurant, La 5ème Saveur. Her cuisine is a revisitation of French cuisine through fermentation. She is also a writer and columnist for a Taiwanese health magazine. www.cheffemichellechang.com
One of my favorite vegetables in Taiwan is cabbage. It is a vegetable that can be found in all seasons and is easy to store in the refrigerator.
After washing and slicing, cabbage can be stir-fried directly with garlic and become a very delicious vegetable dish. It has a crisp texture and a sweet taste.
In addition to stir-frying, cabbage is also suitable for use in soups or to be pickled. In Taiwan, there is a famous street food called, stinky tofu. It is a type of fermented tofu and is most often prepared by frying it to a crispy golden brown and serving it with a plate of pickled cabbage. The pickling sauce is sweet and sour, sometimes with a touch of spicy taste, and the pickled cabbage will take the greasiness out of the fried tofu. (Note: This preparation of cabbage is a pickle, not a fermentation.)
Food is a necessity for human’s body and spirituality, a source of security. For an immigrant who has left his home country, the first thing he needs to find in a foreign country is the familiar food of his home country. When I arrived in France, I started to look for cabbage in the supermarkets and open-air markets in France.
I saw a kind of cabbage called “Chou Blanc”, but after I bought it, I found that it was very hard and not suitable for quick stir-fry. Most commonly, Chou Blanc is fermented, which is also known as sauerkraut. I personally do not like stewed vegetables, so fermenting chou blanc is the best way for me to eat it.
There are many kinds of vegetables that belong to the cruciferous family, including cauliflower, broccoli, and radish. The interesting thing is that the cabbage family can be considered like the cheaper truffle. Because in the cabbage family there is the same DNA as in truffles – sulfur. These sulfur-containing organic compounds (truffles or fermented cauliflower, kale, etc.) produce a sulfurous, garlicky smell through microbial decomposition, so when you open a container of fermented cabbage (broccoli, radish…), don’t put your nose to it yet. Let these unpleasant smells dissipate and then taste the richness of its chemical reaction.
The chemical reactions between the various flavor-presenting amino acids and the mono- or disaccharide molecules that break down in fermented cabbage produce a fascinating flavor that makes them like a cheaper truffle.
The Korean kimchi, which is becoming increasingly popular around the world, is also made from various cabbage families fermented with Korean chili and other ingredients.
In this recipe, I would like to share with you my recipe of sauerkraut. To preserve the maximum nutritional value of fermented vegetables, sauerkraut is not recommended to be heated. However, if fermented cabbage is prepared with other ingredients for flavor, the dish will have a richer presentation.
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For 4 Servings
1 cup Carnaroli rice
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons of EV Olive Oil
½ glass of white table wine
1 pint chicken stock preprepared (or vegetable stock)
1 cup rinsed blueberries
1 cup roasted chestnuts or more, chopped in big pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese (optional)