Make Ahead

Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage

November  5, 2010
40 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

I cook a lot of cabbage during the winter months–there aren't too many other options for greens if you're trying hard to go with local produce! Most often I cook traditional recipes I learned from my mom, but you've got to switch it up sometimes. This was an experiment based very, very loosely off of a kale recipe I was intrigued by (though looking back at the kale recipe now, it's actually totally different, oh well). When we were eating it with dinner my husband exclaimed, "what did you put in this cabbage?! It's suspiciously delicious. Is it actually meat or something?" No meat involved though. The cream picks up the browned bits from browning the cabbage as though it were the base for a gravy. It also mellows out the spicy ginger so everything practically melts together. It makes a delicious cold weather side dish, and I bet it would also be lovely tossed with pasta. —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

"With a recipe title like this one, expectations are bound to be high. Happily, this cabbage is both refined and undeniably delicious–it's the kind of dish that inspires you to keep sneaking forkfuls long past the end of the meal. Fiveandspice has you caramelize the crisp cabbage strands in butter that's been infused with onion, garlic and the key ingredient, fresh ginger. When the cabbage is tender and flecked with tasty brown bits, you add some cream and simmer just long enough for the flavors to meld." –A&M

"In the United States, green cabbage averages at $0.62 per pound, so it’s almost too good to be true that it’s also versatile as heck. You can turn cabbage into soup. Or stuff it with beef and rice. Or pretend it’s pasta. Or you could sauté it.

Sure, this sounds like the humblest option of all, but what this recipe lacks in bells and whistles, it makes up for in simplicity and deliciousness. In fact, it’s so simple and so delicious, some might say the whole thing sounds pretty suspicious.

That’s what husband of longtime Food52er Fiveandspice (known in the real world as Emily Vikre) said when he first tried this dish: 'What did you put in this cabbage?! It's suspiciously delicious. Is it actually meat or something?'

No meat. Just onion, garlic, fresh ginger, butter, and cream. You sauté the alliums first, then add the ginger, then the cabbage. These spend some quality time together for 15 to 20 minutes, only to be deglazed with a big pour of heavy cream, which, as Emily writes, 'picks up the browned bits from browning the cabbage as though it were the base for a gravy. It also mellows out the spicy ginger so everything practically melts together.'

It’s a very welcome side to just about any winter dinner—roast chicken, braised brisket, crispy bratwurst, pan-fried salmon, baked tofu, you name it. Emily’s even added in some leeks and tossed everything with hot pasta. 'It was very savory and rich!' she said.

Sounds like dinner to me." –Emma Laperruque

—The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 4-6
  • 1 medium green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon (heaping) grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In This Recipe
  1. In a very large pan, heat the butter over medium heat until it is melted and starting to bubble a little. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.
  2. Stir in the ginger and cook for about a minute. Then, add in the cabbage, stirring well to coat it with the butter and other flavors. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes, until the cabbage has softened and caramelized.
  3. Turn the heat to low and stir in the cream making sure to scrape any browned bits up from the pan bottom. Cover and cook over low for about 10 minutes. Uncover, add salt and pepper to taste. Then cook for a few more minutes, stirring once or twice, to let some of the liquid evaporate. Adjust seasonings as desired and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Christine Mc.
    Christine Mc.
  • McMonty
  • Gloria Britton
    Gloria Britton
  • Andrew Morgan
    Andrew Morgan
  • Alice Nani Scott
    Alice Nani Scott
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.