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Winter Fish Wrap

Serves 2 -3

By mid-March, I've about exhausted my creativity on what to do with winter vegetables.  But, two perfectly shaped heads of cabbage from San Francisco's Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, one red and one green, provided enough inspiration for an end-of-winter Sunday Supper.  This dish developed into an attractive balance of colors and textures -- a bundle of delicate fish wrapped in a pale green cabbage leaf, surrounded by creamy fresh black-eyed peas and accented with a slaw of crunchy red cabbage seasoned with a sherry vinaigrette.

This dish is surprisingly easy to prepare and uses very little oil:

A light Beaujolais is a perfect accompaniment!


Black-eyed Peas:

  1. Rinse and drain 6 - 8 oz. fresh black-eyed peas.  Put the cleaned peas in a saucepan.
  2. Add enough chicken broth to see the level of the liquid just below the top layer of peas. Add 1 - 2 cloves of garlic (peeled and cut in half), 8 - 10 leaves of fresh sage, 3-4 sprigs of mint, and a tsp. cumin powder, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cook the peas slowly (covered) until they are tender (about 20 - 30 minutes for fresh peas, longer if you are using dried peas). When they're soft, mash about 1/3 of them with the back of a fork and continue to cook until the remaining broth absorbs the starch and becomes creamy (5 - 10 minutes).  (Don't mash all the peas -- you'll want the contrast of textures between the whole and mashed peas. )
  4. When the peas are done, remove the sage and mint and keep the peas warm until ready to use.

Fish Bundles:

To Wilt the Cabbage Leaves:

  1. While keeping the cabbage head whole, cut out the core by running the sharp point of a medium size knife around the base of the core at an angle and as deeply into the core as you can comfortably penetrate the length of your knife.
  2. Put the head (cut side up) in a deep, high-sided bowl and gently open up a few of the leaves.
  3. Pour boiling water into the core until the bowl is full and the cabbage head is completely immersed in hot water. Let the cabbage sit in hot water for about 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the water and begin to remove the leaves from the head, layer by layer. Using care, you'll be able to remove each leaf in tact. Use the largest leaves for this dish (2 leaves per serving) and spread them on paper towels and pat them dry.  Reserve the smaller leaves for another use.


  1. Cut pieces of fish into approximately 1" x 3" batons. Season each baton with salt, white pepper and a dusting of cumin powder.
  2. Cut very thin slices of a Eureka or Meyer's lemon (prepare 1 - 2 slices per bundle).
  3. Spread out one cabbage leaf and place thin lemon slices in the center. Place the fish baton over the lemon slices and wrap the cabbage leaf around the fish to make a neat, firm bundle. Wrap each bundle in plastic wrap and place on a steaming rack.
  4. Steam the fish slowly for about 8 - 10 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fish) in a covered steamer.
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Red Cabbage Slaw:

  1. Using a mandolin or similar slicing tool, slice half a head of raw red cabbage and place  the thin slices in a bowl large enough for tossing.
  2. Heat 2 TBS. of olive oil with 1 tsp. caraway seeds. When the seeds begin to turn color, immediately pour the oil and seeds into the cabbage and stir until the oil coats all the cabbage slices. Add 2-3 TBS. sherry vinegar and salt and continue to mix well.  Set aside until ready for final assembly.

Final Assembly:

  1. Cut away the plastic wrap from the steamed fish bundles and place 2 bundles in the center of a shallow bouillabaisse bowl.
  2. Surround the fish with the creamy black-eyed peas.
  3. Decorate with the red cabbage slaw.
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