Cooking Polish Bigos with Taiwanese Cabbage
01 Oct '18 — if my marriage were a dish
after four hours
Having lived as an expat for many years, I’m accustomed to using only ingredients I can easily get a hold of. They’re often different than what recipes call for.
In Germany, there was no vanilla extract and cheddar cheese was hard to come by. That wasn’t going to stop me from making chocolate chip cookies or mac and cheese. I used vanilla sugar (found in every store in Berlin–no one wants vanilla extract??) and Emmental and Gouda for mac and cheese.
Today I’m making bigos, or ‘hunters’s stew’, and instead of regular cabbage, I’m using Taiwanese cabbage. I can get regular cabbage but I thought it’d be fun to add a cross cultural twist (as if I were stuck in Taiwan). The cabbage tastes the same, it’s just less dense, bigger and the shape is more of a flattened sphere. Bigos is traditionally made with a mixture of meat (that you hunted). Since I’m vegetarian, I’m leaving meat out.
My husband tells me in Poland, sometimes they let the cabbage cook down for a week.
chop and carmelize
The shredded cabbage takes a lot of space. I added a bit of water to steam the veggie until the volume went down. Then I added fresh amounts and a bit more water until all of it softened and fit into the pot.
Garlic, caramelized onions, bay leaves and peppercorn were then mixed in. We had dried mushrooms from our last trip to Poland so I included some as well.
This dish is meant to be slow cooked on low heat, perfect for the crockpot. I put ours on the stove at the lowest heat.
After an hour and a half, the green from the cabbage disappeared. Looks ugly but smells delicious!
so much flavor
After three hours, the cabbage became mushier and I placed tomatoes in for the last 10 minutes.
Lastly, my husband seasoned the pot with salt, pepper, one drop of smoked liquid and a few shakes of smoked paprika.
The bigos came out far more flavorful than I expected. A perfectly warm dish for today’s rain.