Cabbage souring is a special procedure that requires sound and solid cabbage heads, salt, water and a little effort. The process of souring has not changed much since the oldest methods of souring, like the biological one. Cabbage is most often soured as whole heads, or cut cabbage. Certainly, for the best quality and taste it should be taken into account that cabbage being soured should be fresh. This is also the method of the greatest cabbage masters from Međimurje as well as the city of Ogulin, whose cabbage was registered in the Register of Protected Geographical Indications by the European Commission in 2015.
Therefore, the best recipes with cabbage, both classical and some new versions, should be sought from these virtuosos whose knowledge in traditional dishes with cabbage dates back to distant past and who are able to disclose to us what secrets, tricks and methods of preparation of their favourite foodstuff have been passed on from one to another generation for long years.
The staff from the Frankopan Hotel in Ogulin disclosed to us what tastes of tradition spread from out their kitchen.
“In our kitchen, we like combining modern ingredients with tradition. The secret of taste of our dishes is in original, autochthonous ingredients that we always use in our cuisine. We have included our grandmothers’ and mothers’ heritage into professional cooking. Tradition and modern mean a perfect taste for all palates,” says Maja Lončarić, Sales Representative of the Frankopan Hotel.
One of such traditional-modern recipes is that for turkey rolls on a bed of sour cabbage:
“For side dish, we fry onion lightly. When the onion is caramelised, we add sour cabbage, and then walnuts, grapes and spices. We put water at times and cook for about an hour. While the cabbage is slowly simmering, we make turkey rolls which we fill with chard, pancetta and spices. We lay the rolls on the cabbage, cover the lid and let the rolls cook slowly with the cabbage,” the staffs at the Frankopan Hotel say.
From the other capital of the cabbage, Međimurje, we learnt all the secrets of rustic cuisine in the 21st century. The Međimurski Dvori Restaurant in Lopatinec, not far away from Čakovec, serves its delicacies in terra cotta dishes so that they preserve their traditional note and experience.
Tatjana Martinjaš, the Head of the Tourism Sector, described in which combinations they prefer to serve sour cabbage.
“On St. Martin’s Day, or on 11th in the month, we take sour cabbage on the table for the first time in the year and serve it with everything traditional, as it was once served,” she explains. Those are usually black pudding (krvavica), homemade roasted sausages, stewed potatoes, and the so called “kare u rečici”. “That is pork chop from below the belly and is coated with a lemon and a membrane to disable it to lose softness. Previously, it is marinated in garlic, laurel leaf, black pepper and salt and left to rest for a couple of days. It is roasted slowly and served with sour cabbage,” Martinjaš explains.
Sour cabbage is prepared in such a way that they first wash it, then simmer it on onion, red pepper and roast it in the oven for a while.
It is also served fresh, in an amazing salad with pumpkin seed oil, the very mentioning of which made us hungry. “You just take sour cabbage, strain it, wash in cold water and pour it with the best pumpkin seed oil you have, and that is a perfectly healthy and fine salad full of vitamin C and everything you need for your immune system throughout the winter,” Martinjaš adds.
With these exciting and savoury combinations, one should certainly include cabbage in the menu more often and endure through the winter with the memorable tastes of tradition.