What Is Sweetheart (Or Less Prosaically, Pointed, Hispi Or Chinese) Cabbage And How Should Sweetheart Cabbage Be Cooked?

What is sweetheart cabbage?

Sweetheart cabbage is sweeter and more tender than ordinary cabbage and doesn’t take so long to cook. It’s tight, green and leafy. Also known as pointed, hispi, or Chinese cabbage, the name sweetheart is used because of its sweet flavour, and because the French word for cabbage, chou, is used as a pet name for a sweetheart, not, as you might think, because it has a shape like a heart.

 

What are the best things to do with sweetheart cabbage?

  • The shredded cabbage goes well in stir fries – use some walnut oil and throw in some dried cranberries.
  • Or you can cook it in boiling water for about five minutes drain, and then add butter and lots of Tellicherry black pepper.
  • Or you can fry it for about ten minutes in butter with a chopped red onion and a couple of thinly sliced leeks.
  • Stir fry with cranberries.
  • Meat-eaters can fry some chopped rindless bacon first, and then, using the bacon fat from the bacon to fry, add the shredded cabbage, onion, leeks and perhaps some chopped nuts (pistachios maybe?). Finish with a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • At Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Cornwall the signature dish has been bass with hispi (sweetheart) cabbage and Porthilly sauce (a sauce invented by Outlaw, of tomatoes, butter and olive oil).
  • Or stir fry in a little butter with chilli, garlic, oregano, white wine and either clams or mussels
  • A suggestion from Tom Griffiths of Flank: “The best side dish ever. Chop into quarters. Brush with lard, cook until caramelised”.
  • Or, as it’s served at The Fishes, just south of Oxford, in charred wedges with smoked bacon, breadcrumbs and chives.
Charred Hispi cabbage wedges with smoked bacon, breadcrumbs and chives at The Fishes gastro-pub.
Charred Hispi cabbage wedges with smoked bacon, breadcrumbs and chives at The Fishes gastro-pub.

 

What is the season for sweetheart cabbage?

The season in the UK is from May – November, but it’s grown in Spain from November to April so if you want it for Valentine’s day it should be easy to find.

 

Sweetheart cabbage, also known as hispi cabbage – sweeter than ‘normal’ cabbage
Sweetheart cabbage, also known as hispi cabbage – sweeter than ‘normal’ cabbage

 

 

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