Ah, the fabled fried cabbage and noodles. My sisters and I have deep regard for this humble dish. There is no recipe (until now) and as far as we know this came over from Czechoslovakia with my great-grandmother. When I was in the Czech Republic recently I asked several people if they’d ever heard of it but no, no one had. I’ve googled it and come up with nothing. Of course who knows how it’s spelled but I’ve done some intense (well, intense in the sense that I’ve scrolled down a little on a google search page) research on the topic and come up pretty empty handed. The tour guide we had in Prague seemed to think that it’s a made up family name but zelí is Czech for cabbage at least. The vaslesia is up for grabs.
WUWM has a series about unwritten family recipes. And, as it happens they interviewed me last Sunday about zelívasešia and my family’s relationship to it.
My grandmother died when my mother was 12 and this may account for our love of it. It was pretty much all we had of our grandmother whom my mother loved so much. We used to love to hear stories about her although there weren’t many. And we had a kind of reverence about this dish.
After the interview which took place in my home as I made it. I took the leftovers (the photographer and interviewer both ate bowls of it) and gave it to my mother. She took a bite and exclaimed “Oh Michael!!” She ate all of it.
The diacritical marks are my own it just looks more Czechoslovakian with them.
Fried cabbage with noodles
1 medium head of cabbage core removed, grated.
While my mother did this on a box grater which took the better part of a day. I used a food processor which took the better part of a minute. It should look finely chopped.
3 TBs butter divided
Salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
For the noodles
1/2 tsp salt
2 TB water
1 cup flour
Scant 1/4 tsp nutmeg
Whisk the eggs, salt water and nutmeg together, whisk in flour. A stiff paste will form.
Press this paste through the large holes of a colander directly into the boiling water. After a minute or two remove from water and strain. Set aside. It’s ok to let it cool
For the cabbage
Melt 2 TB butter in a large frying pan
Add cabbage, salt and pepper to taste
Fry over medium high heat until the cabbage begins to brown (you can add a few TBs water if it’s getting too dry)
Once the cabbage is browning and looks slightly wilted, this will take about 6 or 7 minutes, make a well in the middle by pushing the cabbage to the side add the 3rd TB of butter and then the noodles. fry until browning and then mix cabbage and noodles together. Taste for seasoning.