“I always think it’s a pity that so many people consider cooked cabbage rather unpalatable. In Korea, white cabbage is one of the most commonly used everyday vegetables and everyone loves it. When cooked, the crunchy opaque leaves, tightly nestled together, unfurl and turn translucent. The fibrous texture of the raw ingredient softens and becomes tender, unveiling the delicate vegetal nuances that cling onto the bolder flavours, delivering the comfort that eats softly on the tongue and gently on the stomach.
Slightly charred cabbages boast intensely caramelised sweetness that sits on the verge of bitterness (in a nice way) and pairs well with a warm, garlic acidity laced with smoky gochujang. Eat this with crispy fried egg on the side and with steamed rice to make it a midweek-friendly dinner. ”
Prepare the cabbage by removing any wilted outer leaves. Slice the cabbage in half lengthways so you have two wedges. Remove the cores and tear the leaves into large, bite-sized pieces. The edges of the pieces will appear uneven and that is perfectly fine. Transfer the torn cabbage to a large mixing bowl and soak it in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain well.
Toss the cabbage with the vegetable oil, salt and black pepper.
Preheat the grill (broiler) to high and place a large empty baking tray under the grill to heat up.
Carefully remove the hot tray from the oven and place the seasoned cabbage onto it. You should notice the sizzling sound as the cold cabbage hits the scorching hot tray. Grill for 7 minutes, turning once or twice to ensure you have an even char. You should notice the edges catching in places. The inside of the cabbage will soften but still retain some bite. When ready, set aside.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar, soy sauce, gochujang and gochugaru in a small mixing bowl. Give it a good stir and set aside. Put the olive oil and garlic into a small, cold saucepan. Gently warm up over a low heat for a couple of minutes to infuse. I start the pan from cold to prevent the garlic from burning too quickly, so be patient and keep the heat on very low. After 2 minutes or so, you should notice the garlic begin to smell fragrant. Add the soy sauce and gochujang mixture to the pan, stirring continuously to incorporate it into the oil. Continue cooking on low for 2 minutes.
Whisk in the cider vinegar and bring it to a warm temperature without boiling. It should only take about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage and warm gochujang vinaigrette. Serve warm or cold. Stored in an airtight container, it will keep well for a few days in the fridge.