Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Cabbage is a super easy side dish that can go with almost any dishes. The bright colour of red cabbage is so attractive that you can even use a small amount of it as a garnish for grilled fish. The addition of dashi stock makes this pickled dish distinguishes from the Western-style pickled red cabbage.
It is always a good idea to stock jars of preserved foods. If they are home-made, it’s even better. To tell you the truth, I quickly made this Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Cabbage as a small side dish to go with the bento that I am planning to post in a couple of week’s time. So, I decided to post this recipe today.
What’s in Pickled Red Cabbage
The vegetable is just a red cabbage. Unlike the Western-style pickled red cabbage recipe, the ingredients for the pickling liquid does not include herbs or spices, but it includes dashi stock to reduce the sharp acidity of the vinegar.
Here is a list of ingredients:
- Shredded red cabbage
- Salt to wilt shredded red cabbage
- Rice wine vinegar
- Dashi stock
Sweet vinegar is called ‘amazu’ (甘酢) in Japanese, and it means exactly that. The word ‘ama’ (甘) is the noun form of the word for ‘amai’ (甘い, sweet). ‘Zu’ (酢) is the same as ‘su’, which means vinegar. Amazu can be made with or without dashi stock and the stock can be either awase dashi or konbu dashi (for vegetarian). Adding dashi stock makes it a milder amazu flavour.
You can also make this dish with normal cabbage, but then you’d have to call it Pickled Green Cabbage! I posted Pickled Chrysanthemum Radish, which also uses amazu. The proportion of the amazu ingredients is almost the same.
About Wilting Vegetables
Before pickling vegetables or dressing thinly sliced vegetables, you sometimes add salt to the vegetables to make them wilt. Have you ever wondered why?
There are few reasons:
- The vegetables keep longer. By sprinkling salt over the vegetables, the water within the vegetables, which also causes wilt, is extracted. The less water the vegetable has, the longer it keeps.
- The colour of the vegetable is preserved. When you massage the vegetables with salt, it enhances the natural colour of the vegetable. E.g. the brighter green of cucumber skin.
- The vegetables absorb the flavour better. This is kind of opposite effect to the reason 1. Letting the water out it in turn sucks the flavour of the dressing, marinade or pickling liquid into the flesh. This is especially so for the vegetables that contain a lot of water in the flesh.
In Japan, there is a very simple cooking method for vegetables called ‘shiomomi’ (塩もみ). It is hardly cooking, but simply massage the sliced fresh vegetables with salt, squeeze the water out and serve them. The vegetables that contain a lot of water such as daikon, cabbage, cucumber and Chinese cabbage, are best suited for it.
Depending on the vegetable, you might sprinkle the salt and leave it for a while or you might massage the vegetable to speed up the wilting process.
In the case of Pickled Red Cabbage, I quickly mixed the cabbage and salt and left it for 10-15 minutes.
How to Make My Pickled Red Cabbage
While wilting the cabbage, make a pickling liquid.
Mix the pickling ingredients well, ensuring the sugar is completely dissolved, then put the liquid and the wilted red cabbage together in a zip lock bag. Make sure that you squeeze the water out of the wilted cabbage as much as possible.
Remove the air from the bag, seal, and leave it for a minimum of 1 hour. It is best to leave it overnight to further develop the vivid colour of the red cabbage. Then, transfer the cabbage with the pickling liquid to a jar. It keeps about 10 days in the fridge.
I rarely buy red cabbage. When I buy it, I usually need just a small amount of it to add to a salad or something. Then I end up with more than half of the cabbage unused. I could keep on making salads but I think that a Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Cabbage lasts longer and it’s more versatile.
This is a super easy side dish that goes with almost any dishes. The bright colour of Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Cabbage is so attractive that you can even use a small amount of it as a garnish for grilled fish. The acidity of the sweet and sour pickling liquid is milder than other vinegar-based pickled vegetables.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 150g / 5.3oz red cabbage shredded finely
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp dashi stock (note 1)
- 1½ tbsp sugar
Put the shredded cabbage and salt in a bowl. Massage them to coat the cabbage pieces with salt well. Leave for 10-15 minutes to wilt the cabbage pieces.
Squeeze the water out of the cabbage and transfer it to a zip lock bag.
Mix the Pickling ingredients in a small bowl and mix well until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the pickling liquid to the bag, remove the air from the bag as much as possible and seal the bag (note 2).
Leave it for minimum 1 hour, preferably overnight in the fridge.
Serve a small amount of Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Cabbage as a side or a garnish for a main dish such as grilled fish.
If you are not using all the Pickled Red Cabbage immediately, transfer the cabbage with the pickling liquid to a jar, put the lid on and keep it in the fridge. It keeps for about 10 days.
2. To remove air from the bag, I do the following:
a) Fill the basin with water and lower the half-sealed zip lock bag slowly into the water.
b) Gently massage the bottom of the bag, steering the air bubbles towards the surface.
c) Gradually lower the bag to just below the zip line while eliminating the air bubbles.
d) Once most of the air is out, seal the bag.
3. Nutrition per serving as a side. Assumed 50% of salt is absorbed when wilting the cabbage and 50% of the pickling liquid is consumed, which is probably more than actual amount.
serving: 66g calories: 37kcal fat: 0.1g (0%) saturated fat: 0g (0%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 0g monounsaturated fat: 0g cholesterol: 0.1mg (0%) sodium: 313mg (13%) potassium: 102mg (3%) carbohydrates: 7.5g (3%) dietary fibre: 0.8g (3%) sugar: 6.9g protein: 0.7g vitamin a: 8% vitamin c: 36% calcium: 1.4% iron: 1.7%