Cabbage-Phad Thai--not just for dieters


#1

On visiting my extended family out of state, I found three people heavily into Weight Watchers, counting “points” like no one’s business. They like my cooking, and it’s been an interesting twist for me to think of great, low-point foods for them.

I can dilate on the “how” if people are interested, but I just wanted to set down that I tried making phad thai but subbing thinly sliced cabbage for the rice noodles.

I knew if I managed the moisture issues with the cabbage that this would turn out at least alright. But it wasn’t just alright–it was incredibly good. Part of that might be simply about freshness, because I bought all the ingredients new, even down to roasting the blanched peanuts from the Asian store just hours before the meal. But I have to say, this was extraordinarily successful, and zero “points” except for the palm sugar, which I didn’t know how to calculate.


(erica) #2

My guess is that if you lightly salted and oiled the shredded cabbage, then spread it on a sheet pan in a low oven, increasing the heat once no more liquid was exuding, you’d have enough caramelization to obviate the need for added sugar.


#3

Interesting to wonder whether Maillard reaction would create “points.” It would move the dish even further from Phad Thai, but still I like the idea itself.


#4

I have actually had this version of canbage pad thai from food 52 bookmarked since they published it, just haven’t gotten around to making it apparently but it certainly sounds delicious!


#5

I’m currently doing WW…the palm sugar would be 1 point per teaspoon, like other sugars.

And THANKS for the recipe. We’re Thai freaks chez moi, so a low point Pad Thai is going to be a hit!


#6

Cool! The recipe looks worth trying. More Chinese-like than mine, and with different technique. But I’ll pass it along and try it, too.


(erica) #7

It slipped my mind that freezing raw shredded cabbage first would speed the final dish, regardless of cooking process. The cell walls rupture so even if cooked without thawing/draining, the water exuded cooks off fast.


#8

No, no extra points…the sugars were in the cabbage to begin with, so caramelizing them adds nothing.


#9

Yes, please expand on your recipe!


#10

Sure, Sunshine. Most efficient might be to say that the keys to success here are the sauce as well as the cabbage. The sauce and other preparation I take pretty much exactly from this link, expect that I used tofu and chicken-thigh rather than the pork and shrimp:

As to the cabbage, you can follow this treatment and thereafter use the cabbage more or less as you would softened rice noodles:

  1. I took 1 small-to-medium head of green cabbage. Slice the head in half lengthwise, and then slice the half again lengthwise, resulting in quarter-head lengths. Half of the head was enough for two recipes from the link above, so basically you want a quarter head per preparation.

  2. Working with however many quarters you need, slice the quarters lengthwise into shreds about rice noodle width. Given the geometry, that means cutting at changing angles, so that you are always slicing toward the center of the head. Take the shreds to a colander and sprinkle with kosher salt, rather liberally because the salt will later be rinsed off. Let this sit in colander in a sink (it will drain water) for at least an hour or two, periodically messing it up with your hands to keep the salt-effect moving around. As the cabbage softens, I grab chunkier bits whenever I’m messing it up and discard them, because I want to keep the cabbage relatively light and uniform in texture and size.

  3. Before using, rinse the cabbage vigorously to shed salt. Place in prep bowl and use pretty much as you would rice noodles from here on, with this exception: because cabbage can vary in how much water it has retained, I alter the cooking order a bit from the recipe link. I don’t start with garlic, as I use high heat. Instead, I put the proteins into hot oil with a portion of the chile flakes, adding garlic after a minute or so, when the high heat is a bit tamed. When the proteins are mostly cooked, I remove all the wok ingredients to a plate, and the stir-fry the cabbage alone to determine if it’s exuding much moisture. If it is, I boil most of that off, so that there is little water left and frying temperatures can therefore be attained. The oil in the pan can look like water, but once you hear the cabbage beginning to sizzle, you know the water is not running the show anymore. From there on out, everything is just as if using rice noodles.

I think I might actually like this more than the usual rice noodle prep, because the cabbage adds some flavor (where rice noodles really don’t), but the cabbage does not have any of that cruciferous smell somehow. It’s subtle and not assertively cabbagey. Good luck!


(erica) #11

Yes, when cabbage is sauteed, it becomes unctuous. I use it liberally in meatloaf and frikadellen, where it adds moisture and is nearly indistinguishable from the onion in the recipe. I also use it in my version of French onion soup, 3:1 onion to cabbage ratio.


#12

YUM! I used both of the linked recipes as a guideline, plus the advice for salting and draining the cabbage.

I used a packet of Passage Food’s Pad Thai sauce, which is fast and delicious.

Great recipe, and the fact that it’s low points is even better.