Cabbage, vermouth and banana shallot melee

This technique for cooking cabbage is remarkably good; it’s all due to the daring largeness of the pieces of caramelised shallot, and heady scent of the cumin, and the dryness of the vermouth.

It’s simple and elegant, and it goes well with lamb, as well as with fish.


Recipe for cabbage, vermouth and banana shallot melee

Serves 4


  • 1 small cabbage, or half a medium one
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • butter – about 50g/2 oz
  • 60 ml/¼ cup dry vermouth (Noilly Prat for choice)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, and a bit more salt
  • 1 onion, or, better, 3 banana shallots


  1. Dry fry the cumin seeds in a small frying pan. Set them aside.
  2. In the same pan, warm some olive oil.
  3. Peel the onion, slice off the root end, and slice lengthwise into about eight (or into quarters for shallots) wedge-shaped sections.
  4. Fry gently until golden.
  5. Warm a bit more oil in a large frying pan.
  6. Core the cabbage and shred it. add to the pan, together with a generous knob of butter, and fry to caramelise. Add the crushed garlic, and stir.
  7. Add the vermouth and reduce until the cabbage is cooked through, but still bright in colour, about three or four minutes – it’s important not to over cook or it will resemble the dreary horror ubiquitously found in schools and hospitals in Britain in the last century!


If you are interested to know the difference between cumin and caraway, follow this link.

Cabbage, vermouth and onion


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