Charred fermented cabbage

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On the Side A sourcebook of inspiring side dishesThis side requires forethought and patience (for 2 weeks or so while the cabbage ferments), but in return you get fizz and tang, as well as the depth of flavour a bit of aggressive griddling can bring. To my mind, it’s a project worth embarking on; it cuts brilliantly through rich meats like mutton, venison and beef, sweetly sauced barbecue cuts and stews too.

You will need a jar or fermentation crock at least 3 litres in size (a Kilner jar or similar is fine). If the vessel you use is much bigger than that, you could consider doubling the recipe so you have enough cabbage to keep you going for more than just one meal. The fermented cabbage can also be eaten raw, without the charring, just like a pickle – it’s excellent with cold meats or spicy stir-fries.

The brine is 3.5 per cent salt. If you need to top up the jars with more liquid than the recipe suggests, just dissolve more salt in water using the same ratio.

  • Yield: 6 Servings


  • 105 g natural salt, with no anti-caking agents
  • 2 medium green cabbages
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 7 stems dill
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
How to Make It
  1. Make a brine by slightly heating 3 litres water in a large pan, then adding the salt and stirring until it has fully dissolved. Leave to cool. Ensure your fermentation crock or jars are clean and sterilised.
  2. Wash the cabbages. Cut them in half through the core, then each of the halves into 4 wedges, angling your knife through the core so the wedges remain intact. Place the wedges in the jars, adding the aromatics as you go. Pour the brine over the cabbage, and keep the cabbage pieces submerged by placing on top a weight or sealed freezer bag filled with a little water. Leave a 2–3 cm gap between the brine and top of the jar and seal it. Store it out of direct sunlight but in a warm room (21–24°C) for about 2 weeks. Unless you have an air-lock lid, open the lids to ‘burp’ the jars by releasing any build-up of gases a couple of times a day during the first week, resealing them each time. The cabbage should be pleasingly fizzy after 2 weeks, at which point decant it, with the brine, into smaller sterilised jars and store in a cool place, where it will keep for at least 2 months more.
  3. To char the cabbage, remove the required number of wedges from the brine and allow to dry for at least an hour before cooking. Put a griddle pan on the hottest spot on your hob. Brush with oil and heat until smoking. Add the wedges and char for 4–5 minutes per side, turning just once. Eat immediately.

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