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Charred Cabbage Salad with Coconut Vinaigrette

Charred cabbage salad with coconut vinaigrette.
(Yasara Gunawardena / For The Times)
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Cabbage “steaks” are seared on one side and served with an aromatic coconut vinaigrette, basil oil and fresh herbs. It’s a refreshing take on cabbage that’s light, tropical and savory, with just the right amount of sweet-and-lush from the coconut milk.

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Basil oil
Charred cabbage
Coconut vinaigrette
1

Make the basil oil: Bring a medium pot of water to boil over high heat. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice water and set aside. When the water is boiling, add the basil and blanch just until bright green, less than 30 seconds. Drain the basil and immediately add it to the ice bath. Using tongs, remove the basil to a paper-towel lined plate and dry with more paper towels. Blend the basil with the oil until smooth and set aside.

2

Sear the cabbage: Heat a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp of coconut oil. When the coconut oil is hot, add the cabbage steaks to the pan; you will have to work in batches. Cook the cabbage until the bottom is well-browned and the cabbage softened (but not too soft — you want the “steaks” to retain their integrity), about 5 minutes. Season with salt and carefully transfer to a large platter or baking dish. Repeat until all the cabbage is cooked, adding coconut oil to the pan as necessary. Let cool to room temperature.

3

Make the coconut vinaigrette: Put the coconut milk in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. When the coconut milk is hot, whisk in the garlic powder, salt, pepper and habanero. Mix until the seasoning has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mirin, olive oil, rice wine vinegar and lime juice.

4

Cut the cabbage steaks in half. Spoon some vinaigrette onto a plate and place each half on top of a pool of vinaigrette. Drizzle a little of the basil oil over and garnish with parsley and mint.

The type of coconut milk you use is key. Thai brands aren’t recommended because the coconut tastes different from Caribbean coconuts; look for Grace brand.