Quinoa with 5-Spice/Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage & Lemon
Quinoa is actually pretty wonderful stuff. I say that, because up until about a month ago, when I made it for myself the first time, I was almost certain of the fact that I didn't like it. Mainly, that was due to the fact that I had never eaten any before that wasn't totally bland and usually totally dry. As with almost everything- it all depends on the spices you use and the preparation- after all, neither rice, potatoes, pasta nor couscous for example, would be particularly exciting unflavored and served on their own...
So I decided to get a little experimental this evening, (as usual!) and to try out something new. I had a small red-cabbage that I had picked up at the market hall on Saturday and had the notion that it would be great combined with 5-spice powder, ginger and carrots, but as I dislike the blue color that it turns when it is cooked if nothing acidic is added, that was when I thought of lemon juice. And honey... and of making it into a sweet 'n' sour dish!
I began of course by rinsing the quinoa until the water I poured off stopped being milky and became clear, and then getting it boiling, with twice the amount of water as quinoa itself, for 20 minutes.
During that time of course, I needed to get the cabbage cooked! So- into a frying pan went a little butter and a little sesame oil. I quickly chopped up about 2" of ginger and added these, then cut the red cabbage in half and then cut the half cabbage into 5-6 slices, which I in-turn, cut cross-wise into very fine strips. These went into the frying pan with a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of 5-spice powder.
I stirred these together well and fried them for 4-5 minutes. In the meantime, I cut a couple of slices of peel from the lemon and blanched them for 2-3 minutes. Whlst that was happening, I added the juice of the full lemon to the frying pan and stirred it in quickly, deglazing the cabbage and bringing up all of the good flavors of the spice and ginger.
I then added enough water to cover the base of the pan and let the cabbage simmer down. Whilst that was happening, I finely sliced a Spring onion, a carrot, which I first halved length-wise and the 2 strips of lemon zest.
By this time, the quinoa had been boiling for almost 20 minutes, so I added the carrots and onion to it, stirred them in well, replaced the lid and let it sit for a further 5-10 minutes to fluff up and finish cooking in the residual heat of the saucepan.
Back at the frying pan, it was time to spice up the cabbage. I added a couple of tablespoons of "banana chili sauce" which I happen to have- a Phillipino concoction that I picked up on my last trip to the Asian supermarket. Of course you can use regular chili and add more honey or sugar- but being slightly sweet, this just brought me one step ahead. I also added soy sauce, obviously, a little more sesame, just for the flavor and a good tablespoon of honey. And a handful of raisins- just to be sure there was enough sweetness going on and that there was something nice and juicy in the mix!
I stirred these into the cabbage and then in turn, added the quinoa to the pan and finally brought everything together! I let it continue to cool on a low flame whilst I finely chopped some chives as a finishing touch and plucked a few fine leaves of parsley. Served up together and with a sprinkle of those blanched lemon zest sliced, this was a fun, tangy and spicy treat!
Just because I live in Frankfurt, doesn't mean it is going to end up being Sauerkraut for supper!