cabbage with hot sauce

spicy cabbage

I feel like spring is toying with my emotions. It’s playing tricks on me giving me sunshine and warmth for a few days, and then turning cold and wet. We’re not having a fine romance I imagined it to be this year – and I feel led on by the season. I keep saying it’s my favorite season, but I’m beginning to question why? It’s never quite as warm as I remember it – perhaps my memory paints past events in better light.

To all of you who wrote lovely comments to me in my last entry and those of you who reached out personally – thank you. I’m so grateful for your thoughts and wishes and so moved by them. I’m hoping for the best – and time will tell.

spicy cabbage

With everything that’s been swirling around me recently, I’ve been a bit lackluster in the kitchen. Just not the same energy after a long day of work and a challenging run in the park. I get home with barely enough time to repack my gym bag, make a few calls and read a few pages. I’m still waiting on some news and it makes following most directions a bit of a challenge. With such lazy approach to cooking as of late, my kitchen has seen quite a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches pass through. I cannot think of a better make-shift meal that comes together in mere seconds, nourishes, fills, and delights. Yes, delights. In fact, I’m pretty much okay having peanut butter sandwiches just about every day. I’m a bit of a peanut butter fanatic, if you must know.

spicy cabbage

Strangely, however, a food blog where I regale you with tales of my peanut butter consumption doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as a food blog where you see various dishes across your screen. The latter seems more appealing and this is where I need to pick up slack. Despite my resistance to pick up a knife and turn on the stove, not all dishes come with pages of instructions and some cook themselves in mere minute resulting in glorious, comforting and wholesome meals. Like this spicy cabbage. Like peanut butter, I’m afraid I could eat this every day (and have eaten it for many days now).

Ever since attending Molly’s wonderful reading of her beautiful book “A Homemade Life”, I’ve been kind of obsessed with this cabbage. She mentioned it during Q&A and I couldn’t get it out of my head. When I made it, I was floored with how easy and delicious it was. I made more the next night. And the next. And… you get the idea. In fact, as I write this, a gourmet dinner a few hours away, I kind of want to just ditch dinner, go home and make a heaping bowl if this, plop a fried egg on top and eat it with a thick slice of crusty bread. Oh and while I’m being so hedonistic, I’d pour myself a glass of red wine and away we go! And since it’s raining and cold outside, this is the perfect meal for a night like this one. If I am feeling particularly decadent, I would even put some Sasha Dobson on to complete the experience. But, sigh, dinner out awaits me (I should be ashamed to even complain!) and so the cabbage must until tomorrow to be made again.

Cabbage with Hot Sauce
Adapted from Orangette

½ head green cabbage, quartered and sliced into ¼-inch-thick ribbons
½ medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced (optional)
Canola oil, or another oil with a similarly high smoke point
¼ tsp. to 1 tsp. sambal oelek, to taste
Soy sauce, to taste
Salt, to taste (optional)

Place a wok over high heat and make sure it’s well-heated. When the wok is thoroughly heated, working quickly, pour in a glug of oil and then immediately add the cabbage and the fennel.

Stir cabbage and fennel together to coat with oil, and then leave them alone for a few minutes (2 might do just fine), to allow the vegetables to begin to take on some color.

Then add sambal oelek to taste, and stir again. Because the hot sauce can give off spicy fumes, if you have a stove fan you might want to have it on. Some people are mores sensitive to it than others.

Continue to cook the vegetables until they have wilted and have browned in spots. This should happen after a few minutes.

Then add a glug of soy sauce, and stir well again – because soy sauce tends to be quite salty, add less at first and if needed, add more until it tastes right to you.

Serve hot or warm.

Yield: 2-4 servings, depending on if it’s a main or side dish


  • maggie (p&c)

    Yum. I gotta make this. I knew there were reasons it’s good that my-beloved-cabbage-hater spends part of the week out of town. The egg on top: perfection. Wish I wasn’t making grilled cheese tonight…

  • maggie (p&c)

    Yum. I gotta make this. I knew there were reasons it’s good that my-beloved-cabbage-hater spends part of the week out of town. The egg on top: perfection. Wish I wasn’t making grilled cheese tonight…

  • Ulla

    Your pictures are gorgeous!
    Hope everything turns out ok, you are in my thoughts. I love curried cabbage but i will have to give this a try!:)

  • Jennifer Hess

    I’m so sorry about all the bad stuff that is going on with you and yours – we’ve got a bit of the same happening as well.
    Your lead-off photo made me smile, though. This is just the sort of simple, comforting meal that seems to warm you up from the inside and make you feel, at least for the moment, that things will be all right.
    Wishing you all the best.

  • Kasey

    I just went to her book signing in San Francisco and have begun to read her wonderful book. I love cabbage so this is definitely something I’ll try. I hope that everything works out for the best :)

  • kickpleat

    I’ve been eating a lot of poached eggs on things and I’m always on a cabbage-eating kick, so this dish just screams out my name.

  • radish

    Ulla, thank you -for the compliments and good thoughts. This is quite tasty, though I also love curried cabbage myself.
    Jennifer – I’m very sorry to hear you’re dealing with similar. Hang in there!!
    Mark – I’m lame – I can’t really drink til AFTER my race, which is this Sunday… but then there are other races. I’ll have to make SOME changes in my diet ;)
    Kasey – cabbage is in our Russian blood – how can we not love it?
    Kickpleat – make it tonight! or tomorrow! and let me know :)

  • Sues

    I agree about Spring teasing this year. I’m getting frustrated! Also, I’m a HUGE peanut butter fanatic and love that it’s so cheap now. I could eat it every single day (multiple times). But this looks delicious. And much healthier than peanut butter :)

  • EB

    Honestly…. I’d totally understand an ode to peanut butter if that’s what you chose to give. Sometimes we need and cling to the simple, tasty, and nourishing when everything else… well… isn’t.

  • Silke

    This looks delicious! I notice you haven’t posted in a few days and hope that you are doing alright. I know you were waiting for news and I hope it was good!! :) Silke

  • radish

    Joy – thank you SO much – the run was excellent and tough – we had 90 degree weather here in NYC and I was a little freaked out by the drastic changes, but according to my running partner – she clocked us at 2:10, which is NOT bad at all given that we beat our best time, we were on target with our goal AND we actually ran slower (or so i thought)… So not bad at all.
    Silke – thank you.. i got the news on friday night and i’m afraid it’s not all sunshine and roses… it’s kind of what i expected. So i’m off to Boston to see my folks on Thu and meet with the oncologist who will be looking after my dad. I’m hopeful and focused for him. I’m posting again today – sorry I’ve been so lax in posting lately!

  • jen jafarzadeh

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been obsessed with Molly’s book, and so far I’ve made the banana bread, salmon, eggplant ratatouille, and the rustic tomato soup. I was thinking about the cabbage, and it’s nice to see how yours turned out. I also love anything with hot sauce.

  • tara

    It always makes me happy to see cabbage getting the love it deserves, and Molly is always one to do that. Thanks for reminding me of this recipe!

  • Silke

    I just checked your blog again because you hadn’t posted in a while and was sorry to hear that the news about your dad’s health wasn’t so good. I hope that your visit with your parents was hopeful for all of you! Congrats on the run!! Silke


    I know cabbage is the healthier of the two, but, really, it was the egg with it’s lovely runny yolk that grabbed me.
    Perhaps it’s because I’m a culinary food student and I never met an egg I didn’t like!
    Still, that was a nice egg.

  • Becky and the Beanstock

    You must live in Missouri…. spring won’t spring here, except when it has sprung. Then it gets hot, then it gets cold, then it gets rainy and cool…. oh, blast it! I’ve just discovered sambal oelek and am a big fan of cabbage – and happen to have half a head sitting in my crisper drawer. This sounds like a wonderful way to use both.
    I’m sending positive thoughts for the health issue you’re confronting.

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