Day 51: Devon Crab, Peanut Sauce, Pickled Cabbage
inspired by Naughty Piglets
I’m reading a book at the moment called “Happy Inside”.
Don’t panic I’m not going to start talking about gut health.
“Happy Inside” is actually a book about interior design. Written by Michelle Ogundehin, it’s about how the design of our homes can improve our happiness and wellbeing. I’m mainly reading it to try and motivate myself to get going again on the house renovations. I have spent a lot of time at home recently, but not as much time working on it as I should.
The first chapter is all about clutter.
Michelle recommends we should make a list of everything we own. Yup everything. Can you imagine how long that would take? Just the books would take me hours!
As someone who has moved twice in the past year I don’t actually feel I suffer too much with clutter at the minute. It’s amazing how you find you attachment to things dwindles when faced with the prospect of packing them into another box.
But since lockdown there is definitely one area of the house that is getting more cluttered. The kitchen.
I don’t have a lot more stuff than before. OK yes there are those soufflé ramekins (that I’ve still not made soufflés in) and that nice cast iron pan I bought for the omelette (that somehow has gone a bit rusty, must sort that out).
But the main culprit of clutter in my kitchen is food.
In fact the most cluttered part of my kitchen is the fridge.
The rotation of stuff going in and out of the fridge is almost a military operation. I plan meals, I make note of best before dates. I come up with as many ways as I can to use up food without wasting it. But the contents of the fridge doesn’t really ever seem to go down.
So I’m having a clear out.
And pretty quickly I find the source of the problem. It’s cabbage.
We’ve been getting our Oddbox veg box for about four months. Once a week a box full of fruit and veg arrives. Full of surplus, wonky and unwanted produce that needs rescuing. Enough for two, they say.
In the most part the team at Oddbox are totally right. The fruit we easily get through in a week. Portions of most veg are spot on for two people.
But we have just come through the surplus cabbage season. Most weeks, low and behold, there would be a cabbage in the box. Thankfully the last few weeks have been spring greens. Which I love. Mainly because they are smaller and easier to squash into an overflowing veg drawer.
I have, at times, despaired as I wrestle another enormous white or red cabbage into the fridge. Knowing full well there’s enough cabbage there to feed us for a month already.
I’ve been trying my best. There’s braised red cabbage in the freezer, portioned up for roast dinners. Pretty much any vegetable soup I have made over the past few months has been about 75% cabbage.
The issue is preserving cabbages. As I realise when I clear out my fridge. I made sauerkraut with one white cabbage. I pickled a red one.
But all this means, in the end, is that I’ve taken them out of the fridge, faffed about with them, and then put them back. Just in a jar this time.
But that does not help give me any more fridge space.
I lose the will to live when I sort through the veg drawer. Because there, wrapped in wax paper at the bottom, is half a white cabbage. How do I still have cabbage? Don’t there ever go off??
It appears not.
Come on Libby. You can do this. Just find one more thing to do with a bloody cabbage.
So I think about dishes I’ve read about involving cabbage. I would love to say I went into my mind palace, but that’s not true. I just looked at my saved posts on Instagram. Don’t reckon I’m becoming a detective any time soon.
And there right at the end of my saved posts (the sort of digital equivelent of hiding at the back of the veg drawer) is a post from Naughty Piglets.
“Devon Crab, Peanut Sauce, Pickled Cabbage”
Pretty early on in lockdown. It was also the day of my very first post, Chicken Skin Butter.
I’ve never eaten at Naughty Piglets. I reckon the reason I saved this post is that they were ahead of the curve, and already posting recipes for some of their restaurant dishes online.
Which as a fledgling food blogger, was exactly what I needed.
So I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to try it.
Naughty Piglets stopped publishing recipes long ago. Instead they now run a hugely popular take away service. Maybe they realised that the general public couldn’t cook their food at home.
Let’s give it a try shall we?
The recipe asks for a 1kg live whole cock crab.
Not a promising start. I buy a pot of white meat and a pot of brown meat. So that’s 200g. Oh wait, the recipe serves four. OK I only need 500g. And a whole crab is mainly shell anyway. This will be fine.
Oh and I’ve got Cornish Crab, it’s not from Devon. Pretty sure that won’t matter.
I pickle the cabbage in water, salt, sugar and vinegar. I don’t have a mandolin so it’s not as fine as it should be. I’ll also confess I don’t give it the full 24 hours to pickle. We have dinner later than usual but it still has only had about 9 hours to do its thing.
Even though I’ve only used my half cabbage (enough for 2 they say) it’s somehow expanded and filled a huge mixing bowl. Which is now taking up an entire shelf in the fridge.
Not good. Not good at all. Tastes nice though.
I follow Naughty Piglet’s advice and have a glass of wine whilst making the satay sauce. Sweating garlic, chilli, onion (well it should be shallots really) and ginger until soft. Then add the soya sauce and sugar and reduce. Finally blend with coconut milk and peanut butter. It’s delicious. But it also looks like enough satay sauce for 10 people.
I make a citrusy dressing with lime juice (not the yuzu juice they ask for, sorry Naughty Piglets) olive oil and palm sugar. Quite a lot of that too.
Finally (I’m on my second glass of wine now, progress has slowed down) I make the nori salt. They recommend cutting the nori seaweed with scissors. Which is so much easier than trying to chop it! Wish I had known this when I was making my Scallops in Seaweed Butter!
Now they ask me to use a coffee grinder to grind the seaweed and salt together.
Sorry Naughty Piglets this is a step too far. The idea of my coffee tasting like seaweed for weeks to come does not fill me with joy. I just put some salt in a bowl with the seaweed pieces, ready to sprinkle on top.
I go back to the recipe. What’s next?
“You should now be drunk & hungry…”
I’m definitely tipsy. And starving. So I look for the next step…..
That is the end of the recipe.
So here I am, famished, two glasses of wine down, standing in my kitchen with a massive pile of pickled cabbage, a bowlful of satay sauce, a jar of dressing, some bits of seaweed and two pots of crab meat.
What on earth do I do now? This, I realise, is why you should only write blog posts about dishes you have actually eaten.
I have no idea.
I look at the picture of the dish. I look at the piles of food I have made. Hmmm…
In the end I put a generous helping of cabbage on each plate (still enough left to feed an army). I then add some satay sauce and top with the brown crab meat. Then the white crab meat, a bit more satay sauce, some of the dressing and finally a bit of the chopped up seaweed.
I’m sure it is nothing like Naughty Piglets dish. I think it tastes lovely though! Or maybe that’s just because I’m drunk and hungry. Either way I’m happy.
I put half the satay sauce in the fridge. I’ll make chicken satay tomorrow. The rest goes in the freezer. The jar of dressing goes into the fridge too. I’ll use it up on salads.
I stare at the pickled cabbage. I look at the fridge. I can’t do it. I can’t put anything else cabbage related back in the fridge. I admit defeat and scrape it all into the food waste bin.
Do I feel guilty about this? Yes. But not for long. I’m decluttering after all.
All for the sake of a happy (cabbage free) home.