When purse strings are a bit tight and you’re less inclined to prepare family meals with ingredients that eat into your grocery budget, you look for recipes that are not just “quick and easy” but also nutritious. These types of recipes flood cyberspace and I’m sure that with some diligent research you can end up with a dozen to keep in your recipe files.
Economic downturn or not, I’ve always had a fondness for short recipes; that is, I tend to go for meals that can be prepared with five to seven ingredients. I have a mild aversion to “kitchen gymnastics” where the recipe has several stages, along with complex steps that have to be followed with Olympic accuracy.
Cooking is supposed to be fun so that when the meal is ready, you’re not too exhausted to enjoy it. I’ve come across recipes that read like the Guinness World of Records and demand herculean effort – they turn me off. I don’t want to use four different pans and half a dozen spoons and ladels just for one dish and tax my arms and elbows – only to find out hours later that the concoction collapsed because I happened to open the oven door just a tad. Goodbye.
This is a cabbage recipe that we often ate back home and it is versatile enough that you can substitute the shrimps with either beef, chicken or pork. You may even want to use tofu if you’re not into seafood or you’re a vegetarian. Your utensils? one knife, one frying pan, one wooden spoon. Chopping the cabbage into strips should take no more than 10 minutes. Or you can use your food processor – but then that would mean having to take it out – another utensil to add – and washing it afterwards. A good sharp knife and nimble fingers should serve you well:
1) Heat canola oil (you can use any kind of oil) on medium heat for 2 minutes.
2) Saute your onions, garlic and tomatoes – about 2-3 minutes. Do not let garlic burn.
3) Add your shrimps. Continue to saute for another 1-2 minutes.
4) Then add the cabbage strips and mix well, making sure all the strips are cooked until tender to the bite, adding your oyster sauce at the same time. Mix and coat well (about 2-3 minutes).
5) Serve with white steamed rice!
A few tips: (a) Cabbage cooks quickly (especially when they’re in strips) so make sure you don’t let them turn soggy. They should be crunchy, not tough.
(b) You can thaw your frozen shrimps in the fridge overnight, or else rinse them under cold running water for 3-4 minutes. Set them aside until you’re ready to add them to the frying pan.
(c) If your shrimps are large, you don’t need 2 cups.
(d) As for the oyster sauce, I always dilute it with a bit of water until I reach a creamy consistency. Don’t put too much water, otherwise you’ll end up with a “liquidy” oyster sauce.
(e) If you prefer tofu, buy the extra firm tofu and slice them into cubes. Fry them on high heat for the first 3-4 minutes, and then gradually decrease to medium heat. The idea is to have crisp, well-browned tofu cubes. When your cabbage is ready, the tofu is the last ingredient that you sprinkle over your cabbage.
Cabbage nutrition facts: very low in saturated fats, a rich source of protein, vitamins A, B6 and C. Also contains magnesium, folate, potassium, calcium, thiamine, copper and other minerals.